|INFORMATION ON FISHERIES MANAGEMENT IN THE REPUBLIC OF VANUATU|
LOCATION AND MAIN LANDING PLACES
Main landing places
Commercial fishing vessels, which comprise a handful of locally-based deep-bottom fish and sport-fishing charter boats, mainly unload their catches in Port Vila. Artisanal vessels which carry out deep-bottom hand-line fishing and trolling for pelagic species land their catches in Port Vila, Luganville and Malekula. Coastal commercial catches in 1999 are estimated to be about 230 t.
Estimated landings by principal site (tonnes)
Catches by foreign-based vessels were about 118 t in 2000. These fish are not landed in
The main objectives underlying fisheries development
and management in
The following fisheries development and management objectives are taken from the Department of Fisheries’ 1997 draft Policy Statement:
The report of a review of the fisheries sector in Vanuatu by the Asian Development Bank in 2000 stated: “Apart from a series of brief statements relating to maximising economic development and promoting rational exploitation of marine resources mentioned in the Third National Development Plan, produced more than 10 years ago, there is no recent policy statement for fisheries”.
Overview of government management strategy
The government’s management strategy nominally consists of two major elements:
The Fisheries Act (1982) requires the Director of the Fisheries Department to prepare and keep under review, plans for the management and development of fisheries in Vanuatu waters. According to the law, each plan shall: (a) Identify the fishery and assess the present state of its exploitation; (b) specify the management and development measures to be taken; and (c) specify the licensing programme to be followed for each fishery, the limitation, if any, to be applied to local fishing operations and the amount of fishing, if any, to be allocated to locally based foreign fishing vessel. The law also states that in preparation of each fishery management and development plan, the Director must consult with the local fishermen, local authorities, other persons, and government departments affected by the plan.
With respect to the existing status of fisheries management and development plans, the 2000 ADB fisheries sector review states: “To date, no fishery in the country has operated under a formal management plan.” Subsequent to that review, a Vanuatu Tuna Management Plan was formulated using assistance from the Forum Fisheries Agency.
With respect to management strategy, an important shift in policy appears to have occurred recently. According to the 1999 Annual Report of the Fisheries Division, “the direction being taken by the Department, away from relentless pursuit of a narrow set economic development opportunities, and towards a broader range of both development and management activities”. The report suggests that the broader range of activities should include greater emphasis on management of reef resources, rather than on commercial finfish fisheries.
Description of Main Management Systems for Major Fisheries
With the assistance of the Forum Fisheries Agency a Vanuatu tuna management plan was formulated. The document “Republic of Vanuatu Tuna Management Plan – A National Policy for the Management of Tuna Fisheries” was produced in April 2000 and subsequently adopted by the government in 2001.
In the plan the management of tuna fisheries in Vanuatu covers:
With respect to the scope of the plan, it should be noted that the Tuna Management Plan covers all Vanuatu waters including the consideration of the area of the Vanuatu EEZ around Mathew and Hunter Islands1. It also covers Vanuatu flagged tuna fishing vessels wherever they fish 2.
Several regional fisheries management arrangements to which Vanuatu is a signatory have implications for the management of tuna in Vanuatu:
Vanuatu is a signatory to the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, but the convention is not yet in force, nor have the details of management mechanisms been articulated.
According to the tuna management plan, the objectives of tuna management in Vanuatu are:
The tuna management plan specifies a large number of strategies in four goal categories:
The tuna management plan indicates that, in comparison to the past management strategies, more emphasis is placed on improved monitoring, control, surveillance and licensing systems with a particular focus on foreign vessels; the management of Vanuatu flagged vessels; and strengthening linkages between organizations with common interests.
Management measures include:
It is premature to judge the effectiveness of the measures stipulated in the tuna management plan as the plan was formally adopted just s few months ago and it has not yet been fully implemented. Specific measures, such as the licensing of foreign vessels and collection of access fees, have been in place for many years, albeit under a different licensing regime. A review by the Asian Development Bank in 2000 of the licensing and fee situation associated with the Vanuatu tuna fishery suggested that the major bilateral licensing arrangement was deficient both in monetary and compliance terms.
The Fisheries Department, the Vanuatu Maritime Authority (VMA), the Police Maritime Wing, and the State Law Office all have enforcement responsibilities under the tuna management plan:
The roles of these various institutions are coordinated by a Tuna Management Advisory Committee (TMAC) chaired by the Director of the Fisheries Division.
With respect to the roles of major stakeholders in Vanuatu tuna fisheries, the Fisheries Act requires that management plans must be formulated with wide consultation including: local fishermen, local authorities, other persons affected by the plan, government ministries or departments affected by the plan; and fisheries management authorities of other states in the region sharing the same or interrelated stocks. In the preparation of the Vanuatu Tuna Management Plan, there were numerous focus meetings, public meetings, and interviews with a wide range of concerned parties. The individuals consulted are listed in an appendix to the plan.
According to the tuna management plan, information for the management is acquired through:
There is no single, well-articulated “management system” for the subsistence fisheries in Vanuatu. Because most of the management of subsistence fisheries in Vanuatu has a similar legal basis, uses similar types of interventions, and is constrained by many of the same factors, it could be categorized as a “system” for discussion purposes.
The management system covers a vast array of marine resources. Research by the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Vanuatu in 1990 indicated 467 species of finfish in six major fish families: Pomacentridae, Scaridae, Labridae, Acanthuridae, Siganidae, and Chaetodontidae. Research by ORSTOM in the 1980s on village-level fisheries in Vanuatu indicated that 43% of the marine inshore catch was finfish, 34% was shellfish, 21% was lobster, and 3% was octopus.
There are no bilateral or regional management arrangements in force with respect to the species covered by this fisheries management system.
Although there are general statements of government objectives in the management of inshore fisheries (see earlier section), because most of the inshore fisheries are managed by local communities, the de facto objectives set by the communities are the objectives that are the most relevant. Given the many different culture groupings in Vanuatu, there are a variety of management systems and associated objectives. It can be stated, however, that many of the systems’ objectives relate to safeguarding the fishery resources to enable them to continue their contribution to the local food supply.
In some respects, what could be termed the government management strategy is to have local communities and traditional authorities responsible for management, with technical guidance being provided by the Fisheries Department. This management situation is described by Johannes (1994)3: “Vanuatu’s Fisheries Department realizes that managing most of its coastal fisheries from Port Vila is impossible. The costs of research, monitoring, and enforcement, in the multitude of small fisheries associated with Vanuatu’s several hundred coastal villages would outweigh the benefits by several orders of magnitude. But the Department is beginning to play a vital indirect role in management by working in the villages to help combine local knowledge with modern research based knowledge to improve village based management.”
The specific management measures used by the large number of coastal communities vary from area to area, but many of the systems involve community leaders restricting access by outsiders, as well as various kinds of harvest bans (area, species, season) for residents. Reduction fishing effort to prevent over-exploitation of resources is often, but not always, the intent of these measures 4.
Naviti and Aston (2000)5 indicate that traditional approaches to coral reef conservation in Vanuati have been supplemented by a range of measures introduced by government and NGOs, particularly marine protected areas They give 15 examples on 6 islands of marine protected areas established under customary tenure arrangements. The stated management objectives for most of the areas is to “protect marine resources”.
With respect to the effectiveness of the measures, it appears that they work well where traditional tenure facilitates effective local control of fishing activities. One study 6 indicated this traditional resources management is not effective unless (a) traditions remain strong, (b) immigration has not led to sectors of the population not responding to local institutions, (c) cosmopolitan influences are relatively weak, and local leaders are committed to resources management. These conditions are usually not met in urban or peri-urban areas. The general thinking among observers of the fisheries situation in Vanuatu is that the customary management of subsistence fisheries works better than the previous strategy consisting of well-intentioned but under-resourced central management efforts from the Fisheries Department.
Enforcement of customary management is generally carried out by the residents of the management area concerned. The enforcement is often more effective when directed at outsiders, as opposed to residents of the area concerned. As customary management arises from within the communities, it is sensitive to local stakeholders concerns. The degree of direct stakeholder input into management decisions can vary considerably between communities. Generally, information for management is acquired by direct observation of the abundance of the species concerned. In villages where the Fisheries Department has had some presence, much technical information (e.g. spawning seasons, size at maturity, what management strategies have worked elsewhere) has been provided by Department staff.
Coastal commercial fisheries
As for the subsistence fisheries, there is no single, well-articulated “management system” for the coastal commercial fisheries in Vanuatu. As there has been considerable efforts directed to management of these market-oriented fisheries, some discussion of the details is warranted.
The species covered by the “system” includes deep-bottom fish, reef and inshore pelagic fish, coconut crab, lobsters, trochus, green snail, beche-de-mer, and aquarium fish. The harvested resources are for both local consumption and export. It has been estimated that shell represents 90 percent of total marine product exports from Vanuatu.
There are no bilateral or regional management arrangements in force with respect to the species covered by this fisheries management system. The possible exception is that the giant clams are covered under schedule 2 of CITES, which requires the approval of government authorities in the country of origin in order to be imported into a CITES signatory country.
Although an articulation of the objective of management of the coastal commercial fisheries is not readily available, they appear to be the maximization of the economic returns and other benefits from the exploitation of marine resources to the people of Vanuatu, while ensuring that they can be exploited in a sustainable manner over the long-term.
Judging from past action and legal requirements, the strategies adopted by the Fisheries Department appear to consist of resource surveys, followed assessment of stock condition, formulation of management plans, and enforcement of the measures. Where the resources are located in nearshore areas and are under the control of traditional authorities, there is the intention of having the management carried out by those authorities with technical input from the Fisheries Department, much as the situation for the subsistence fisheries. For the exported marine products, especially shell products, there is a parallel strategy of controlling aspects of harvesting through the buyers. For example, export size restrictions result in the buyers having little interest in purchasing under-size shells.
An important aspect of the strategy is promoting awareness of management initiatives. With the assistance of SPC, fisheries regulations have been translated into the national language and colour posters of species and size limits have been produced. Awareness tours are also made by the Fisheries Department to many of Vanuatu’s coastal communities.
It should be noted that stock enhancement (i.e. placement of hatchery reared juveniles on the reef), primarily for the trochus and clam fisheries, is considered by the Fisheries Department to be a viable management strategy.
The national measures applied vary considerably according to the resource concerned. Examples of measures are as follows:
In addition to these national measures, those commercial resources which are harvested in inshore areas under traditional management are sometimes subject to local measures. Most often this consists of the closure of areas to harvesting activities, but also includes banning of particular gear types (e.g. gillnetting, spearfishing) and other measures.
With respect to the performance, it should be noted that there are major complications in the strategy/measures due to problems with:
Jimmy (1995)7 reviews some of the problems with the management of Vanuatu’s commercial fisheries. He cites inefficiency of enforcement by the Fisheries Department, lack of information on harvested quantities, and outdated legislation. Jimmy concludes that most of the resources are not being managed properly and others do not have legislation controlling their exploitation. On the other hand, management by communities appears more promising. Naviti and Aston (2000) conclude that the capacity to manage and monitor the reefs at the national level is currently very limited, whereas management by local communities is more effective.
Under the Fisheries Act (1982) enforcement of national management measures is the responsibility of “authorized officers”, which is any fisheries officer, any police officer not below the rank of sergeant or any other Government officer designated by the Minister. In practice, enforcement is the responsibility of one officer based at Fisheries Department headquarters in Port Vila. Fifteen cases of violations were prepared for prosecution by the Fisheries Department in 1999, but none were prepared in 2000.
is intended that information required for management decisions is obtained
through periodic surveys and from reports on harvested quantities. In
1996 an FAO consultant9 reviewed the information available
for management and concluded “An important source of information on
which to base management decisions is statistical data on resource harvesting
activities. However, this is an area of significant weakness in the
Department. During the present study attempts were made to obtain up-to-date
information on landings and exports of a range of species, but these
were unavailable or, where available, were blatantly incorrect”.
The main legislation dealing with the management of fisheries in Vanuatu is the Fisheries Act (1982). The Act contains provisions concerning:
The Act was amended in 1989. Changes include certain definitions (e.g. definition of a local fishing vessel), powers of the Minister to enter into foreign fishing agreements, and observers.
Other relevant instruments include the Decentralization and Local Government Regions Act (1994), laws relating to the issue of Business Licences (CAP 173), the Maritime Zones Act (1981) and various Land laws. There is no single document that brings together in one place all the various legislative provisions relating to fisheries.
INVESTMENTS AND SUBSIDIES IN FISHERIES
are no published estimates of the value of investments or subsidies in
Vanuatu’s fisheries sector.
Apart from infrastructure, the major government fisheries-related asset is the South Pacific Fishing Company longline base at Palekula, Espiritu Santo Island in the north of the group. Originally established in 1957 with Japanese Mitsui & Company, the facility consisted of a main wharf, slipways, cold storage, two bait freezers, two quick-freeze rooms, unloading area, engine room, large brine block ice makers with crusher, a loading facility, housing and workshops. The facility closed in 1986 with the relocation of the longline fleet to Fiji and American Samoa. Ownership was turned over to the government and there have been many attempts to revitalize the base in the past fifteen years but none have been successful. The marine slipway was used until the late 1990s, but is now closed.
The major private sector investment in fisheries are the trochus processing facilities, aquarium fish holding facilities, and the sportfishing vessels. For the small-scale fisheries, the major investments are in skiffs, outboard engines, and fishing gear. Outrigger canoes are commonly used for village level fishing.
With respect to subsidies, it should be mentioned that there is a scheme in which qualified fishermen are eligible for duty-free fuel, about 65% of the full commercial price. It is doubtful that this could be considered a subsidy as this duty-free price is considerably more than the full commercial fuel price in neighboring countries.
AND DEMAND FOR FISHERIES PRODUCTS
SUPPLY AND DEMAND FOR FISHERIES PRODUCTS
Projections for the supply and demand for fish are unavailable for Vanuatu. Nevertheless, some crude estimates can be made by combining present fish consumption information with forecasts for population increases.
The population of Vanuatu in 1999 was 193,219. Depending on migration and changes in fertility, the 2025 population is likely to be between 345,900 and 383,600. Taking the midpoint, this would be 1.89 times the 1999 population.
There have been several attempts to calculate fish consumption in Vanuatu in recent years. These estimates have ranged from 15.9 to 25.7 kg per person per year.
If it is assumed that annual per capita consumption is 20.8 kg, then Vanuatu consumed about 4,000 mt of fish in 1999. If the population expands 1.89 times between 1999 and 2025 as indicated above, and per capita fish consumption remains the same as in 1999, about 7,500 mt of fish will be required in 2025.
NATIONAL AND SUB-NATIONAL FISHERIES INSTITUTIONS
The Fisheries Department
for the development and management of
Other fisheries-related institutions
The Vanuatu Maritime
Authority (VMA) is a new agency, established in 1999 under the Maritime
Authority Act. The Authority oversees the operations of both the Vanuatu
International Shipping Registry (VISR) and the domestic
registry, and is ultimately responsible for issues relating to safety
Governments of the six provinces of
Vanuatu Fishermen’s Association is a grouping which represents mainly
the interests of