FAO Home>Fisheries & Aquaculture
FAO of the UN
The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on this map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers and boundaries. Dashed lines on maps represent approximate border lines for which there may not yet be full agreement.

Part I Overview and main indicators

  1. Country brief
  2. General geographic and economic indicators
  3. FAO Fisheries statistics

Part II Narrative (2017)

  1. Production sector
    • Marine sub-sector
      • Catch profile
      • Landing sites
      • Fishing practices/systems
      • Main resources
      • Management applied to main fisheries
      • Fishing communities
    • Inland sub-sector
      • Catch profile
      • Landing sites
      • Fishing practices/systems
      • Main resources
      • Management applied to main fisheries
    • Aquaculture sub-sector
    • Recreational sub-sector
  2. Post-harvest sector
    • Fish utilization
    • Fish markets
  3. Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sector
    • Role of fisheries in the national economy
    • Trade
    • Food security
    • Employment
    • Rural development
  4. Trends, issues and development
    • Constraints and opportunities
    • Government and non-government sector policies and development strategies
    • Research, education and training
      • Research
      • Education and training
    • Foreign aid
  5. Institutional framework
  6. Legal framework
  7. Annexes
  8. References

Additional information

  1. FAO Thematic data bases
  2. Publications
  3. Meetings & News archive

Part I Overview and main indicators

Part I of the Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile is compiled using the most up-to-date information available from the FAO Country briefs and Statistics programmes at the time of publication. The Country Brief and the FAO Fisheries Statistics provided in Part I may, however, have been prepared at different times, which would explain any inconsistencies.

Country brief

Fiji has a population of 898 760 in 2016 a land area of 18 376 km2, a coastline of 5 010 km, and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 1.29 million km2. Fisheries contribution to GDP in 2015 was estimated as USD 65.7 million, contributing 1.6 percent of national GDP. The export value of fish and fishery products in 2015 was USD 110 million (of which USD 58 million as re-exports) and import were worth USD 104 million. Per caput consumption of fish in 2013 was estimated at being about 35.6 kg (live weight equivalent).

Fish and fishing are extremely important to the economy of Fiji. A large number of people are employed in the fisheries sector and fish makes an important contribution to the diet of local residents. In addition, fishing is cherished for its recreational and social aspects. In relative terms, fisheries is the third largest natural resource sector, behind sugar and “other crops”. Tourism is another important industry for Fiji and there are obvious linkages between both tourism and the fisheries sector.

Some of the major constraints facing the Fijian fisheries sector are:
  • The fully-exploited nature of many of the inshore resources, especially those close to the urban markets;
  • Difficulties for small-scale fishers in accessing the offshore fishery resources;
  • Difficulties associated with marketing products from the remote areas where abundance is greatest to the urban areas where the marketing opportunities are greatest;
  • Competition by offshore vessels for access to limited infrastructure and services;
  • Fuel cost increases which have a disproportionate effect on the small-scale motorized fisheries;
  • Slow development of aquaculture for contribution to domestic food supply;
  • Competition from more efficient foreign producers of fishery and aquaculture products;
  • Lack of awareness on the part of coastal communities of the development limitations and the consequences of overexploitation; and
  • Limited dialogue and understanding between the Fisheries Department and the tuna industry.

The opportunities in the fisheries sector include:
  • Value-adding to the fishery products, for both domestic consumption and for export;
  • Greater linkages to the expanding tourism industry;
  • Expansion of the marine aquarium fishery;
  • Exploitation of the offshore resources outside of the Fijian EEZ;
  • Greater use of fish aggregating devices to promote offshore fishing by small-scale fishers;
  • Greater use of management partnerships (community, government, NGO) in the management of coastal fisheries; and
  • Increasing the effectiveness of the Fisheries Department by enhancing stakeholder input.

The annual marine catch of Fiji was estimated at 40 000 tonnes in 2015, of which 34 percent was tunas and other large pelagic species. Subsistence fishing is greatest away from the urban centers, while the commercial fishing is geared at supplying for the urban food markets and for export. Inland water catches are estimated at about 2 600 tonnes in 2013.

There has been considerable aquaculture work in Fiji (marine, brackishwater, freshwater) over many years and covering a large variety of species. The Fiji Government and donors have made a substantial investment in aquaculture. The annual aquaculture production in 2015 was estimated, however, at less than 200 tonnes of finfish and crustaceans and 550 tonnes of seaweeds. Recent aquaculture efforts in Fiji have included tilapia, freshwater prawns, carps, saltwater shrimp, milkfish, seaweed, giant clams, trochus, pearl oysters, bêche-de-mer, sponges, turtles, mud crab, and corals. The primary focus of the Fisheries Department in the last few years has been on pearl oysters, tilapia, shrimp, seaweed, and giant clams.

Fiji is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the UN Fish Stocks Agreement, the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and central Pacific Ocean, and the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild fauna and Flora (CITES). Fiji is also a party to a number of treaties and agreements relating to the management of regional fisheries as follows.

  • The Treaty on Fisheries Between the Governments of Certain Pacific Island States and the Government of the United States of America;
  • The Convention for Prohibition of Fishing with Long Driftnets in the South Pacific; and
  • The Niue Treaty Agreement concerning in Fisheries Surveillance and Law Enforcement in the South Pacific region;
  • Fiji is a member State of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency and the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.
General geographic and economic indicators

Table 1: General Geographic and Economic Data – The Republic of Fiji

Shelf area 43 264 km2 Sea Around Us
Length of continental coastline 1 129 km World by Map
Fisheries GDP (20151) 1.6% of GDP Fiji Bureau of Statistics
*Value converted by FAO as per UN currency exchange rate

(1) Provisional figure

Key statistics

Country area18 270km2FAOSTAT. Expert sources from FAO (including other divisions), 2013
Land area18 270km2FAOSTAT. Expert sources from FAO (including other divisions), 2013
Inland water area0km2Computed. Calculated, 2013
Population - Est. & Proj.0.913millionsFAOSTAT. Official data, 2018
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) area1 288 135km2VLIZ

Source: FAO Country Profile

FAO Fisheries statisticsTable 2 in this section is based on statistics prepared by the Statistics and Information Branch of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department and disseminated in 2016. The charts are based on the same source but these are automatically updated every year with the most recent disseminated statistics.

Table 2— FAO fisheries statistics- The Republic of the Fiji

      1980 1990 2000 2010 2014 2015 2016
EMPLOYMENT (thousands)           3.3 3.3
  Aquaculture 0.27 0.28 0.28
  Capture 3 4.58 1.04 3.1 3.3 3.1
    Marine 3 4.58 1.04 3.1 3.3 3.1
FLEET(thousands vessels) 2.33
Source: FAO Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics
1) Due to roundings total may not sum up

Please note: Fishery statistical data here presented exclude the production for marine mammals, crocodiles, corals, sponges, pearls, mother-of-pearl and aquatic plants.


Updated 2017Part II Narrative

Part II of the Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile provides supplementary information that is based on national and other sources and that is valid at the time of compilation (see update year above). References to these sources are provided as far as possible.

Production sector

Fiji comprises over 300 islands, about 100 of which are inhabited. The exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is about 1.3 million km2, much of which borders high seas areas.

Fish and fishing are extremely important to the economy of Fiji. A large number of people are employed in the fisheries sector and fish makes an important contribution to the diet of local residents. In addition, fishing is cherished for its recreational and social aspects. In relative terms, fisheries is the third largest natural resource sector, behind sugar and “other crops”. Also important in Fiji is tourism, which has an important relationship to the fisheries sector.

Fisheries statistics can be presented in different forms, to cater for different purposes. In the statistics published by FAO (Part 1 above) the presentation follows international conventions and standards followed by FAO and its Member States for reporting catches which are given by the flag of the catching vessel. Accordingly, the fishery and aquaculture production of Fiji in 2014 published by FAO (as given in Part 1 and as of the releasing date² of the Country Profile) was at 43 700 tonnes.

In Table 3 below, the Fiji fishery production statistics include catch by Fiji-flagged vessels (as reported to FAO), catch by canoes and skiffs in Fiji operated by Fiji nationals and catch from fishing activities in Fiji that do not involve a vessel (e.g. reef gleaning). The offshore category in the table is defined as the catch from Fiji-flagged industrial-scale fishing operations that are carried out anywhere (i.e. inside or outside of the Fiji zone).

Table 3: Fiji Fisheries Production (as per FAO reporting standards3)






Fiji Flagged Offshore
Volume (tonnes) 205 tonnes plus 85 236 pieces43 73111 00016 00014 603



1 452 307 3 741 41437 878 788 29 292 929n/a

The amounts of production given in the above table differ slightly from that shown in part 1. Table 3 consists of production estimated from a variety of sources (see SPC study below).

The fishery statistics of Fiji are presented in a different way in a recent study by the Pacific Community (SPC). The SPC study reports on the amount of catch in Fiji EEZ, regardless of the vessels’ flag. In the study, the catches are placed in different categories, which is useful for other purposes, such as the administration of foreign fishing that occurs in the waters of Fiji. A summary of fishery production from the SPC study is given in Table 4 below.

(2)Fishery Statistical collections are subject to a Quality Assurance process which in some situations may determine the figures revision.

(3)The international standards for production of fisheries statistics adopted by CWP – Coordination Working Party on Fisheries Statistics, in use by FAO.

(4)The production of several important aquaculture products (e.g. spat, coral) is measured in pieces rather than in weight.

Table 4: Fisheries Production in Fiji Waters










     Both Fiji and foreign flagged vessels
Volume (tonnes) 205 tonnes plus 85 236 pieces73 73111 00016 00017 0790
Value (USD) 1 452 307 3 741 41437 878 788 29 292 92954 364 9550
Source: Gillett (2016)

  • Catches can be given by the flag of the catching vessel (as in the FAO statistics given in Part 1), or by the EEZ where the catch is made (the “offshore foreign based” and “offshore locally based” columns above). These two different ways of allocating catch each have their purposes. Attribution by flag is important for consistency with international conventions, while attribution by zone is important for determining fishing contributions to GDP, and managing revenue from license fees for foreign fishing in a country’s zone.
  • There is no functional fisheries statistical system in Fiji covering the categories of coastal fishing, freshwater fishing, and aquaculture. The estimates above were made by a study carried out by the Pacific Community in 2015 in which a large number of fishery and economic studies covering the last two decades were examined.
  • The aquaculture production in Table 4 includes non-food items, such as coral, spat, and pearls.
Marine sub-sectorCatch profile

The marine sub-sector has two distinct components: offshore8 and coastal. Almost all Fiji-flagged offshore catches are currently made by longline gear. Historically, about 60% of the offshore catch is albacore. Catches in recent years are given in Table 5.

Table 5: Annual catches by Fiji’s flagged longliners (tonnes)

Species 2011 2012 2013 2014
Albacore 7 793 7 958 6 202 6 703
Bigeye 681 1 019 685 1 586
Yellowfin 2 248 2 081 1 328 3 594
Other tuna-like species 1 422 1 388 1 293 1 702
Total 12 144 12 446 9 508 13 585

(5) In the SPC study offshore locally-based is the catch in Fiji waters from industrial-scale tuna fishing operations that (a) are based at a port in Fiji and (b) generally harvested more than 12 nautical miles offshore.

(6) Offshore foreign-based is the catch in Fiji fisheries waters from catch from industrial-scale tuna fishing operations that are based at ports outside Fiji. Under international standardized System of National Accounts (SNA 2009), those catches do not contribute to the GDP of Fiji.

(7) The production of several important aquaculture products (e.g. spat, coral) is measured in pieces rather than in weight.

(8) In this profile, “offshore” is defined as the area outside the zone normally frequented by small, usually undecked, coastal fishing vessels and is generally greater than 12 nautical miles from the nearest land.The offshore catch level is determined by several factors, including the number of active vessels and the oceanographic conditions. With respect to catch trends, OFD (2015) reports an “annual fluctuating pattern of high and low total catches over five-year periods”.

Estimates of catches from coastal fisheries vary widely. The status of the Fisheries Department’s statistics on coastal fisheries is given in Box 1. The SPC study mentioned above, using various sources of data (including non-fishery surveys), estimated that Fiji’s annual coastal fishery production consists of about 16 000 tonnes by subsistence fishing and 11 000 tonnes by commercial fishing.

Box 1: Statistical Systems for Coastal Fisheries

For several decades the Department surveyed municipal, non-municipal markets, other outlets and roadsides in the Central, Western, and Northern Divisions for the sales of finfish and non-finfish and published estimates of those sales in the Department’s annual report. Detailed reporting of catches ceased in 2004 and summary reporting continued to 2013, with a gap for 2011 and 2012. Although there is summary production information in the 2013 annual report, the alleged 37% drop in finfish production between 2012 and 2013 in that report casts doubt on the credibility of the estimates.

Subsistence fisheries production information is contained in the Department’s annual reports up to 2007 where it was stated: “The Department estimated a total removal of 19 000 tonnes by subsistence fishery in 2004”. For the 2008 annual report, an estimate made by a Canadian student research project was used. No estimates of subsistence production have been made in the subsequent annual reports.

Source: Gillett et al. (2014)

It is difficult to discern trends in coastal fishing due to lack of reliable data. There is, however, a general perception that coastal fisheries accessible to urban residents are declining through over-exploitation and habitat destruction.

Subsistence fishing is greatest away from urban centers, while commercial fishing is geared towards supplying urban food markets and for export. The exports consist of both food items (e.g. finfish) and non-food commodities (e.g. trochus for buttons, aquarium fish).
Landing sites

All locally-based offshore (Fijian and foreign flagged?) vessels unload their catch in Suva, the capital and largest urban area. Foreign-based offshore vessels often come to Fiji to dispose of their catch - all of which is caught outside Fiji waters. This catch by foreign vessels is landed at the tuna processing plant in Levuka (located on the island of Ovalau, near Suva), or is trans shipped at Suva.

Landings from coastal commercial fisheries are made mostly at population centers. It is estimated that the three main urban areas (Suva, Lautoka, Labasa) are the landing points for three-quarters of all coastal commercial production. Suva receives nearly half of the total commercial landings, or about 5 500 tonnes per year.

Subsistence fishery landings occur at villages throughout the coastal areas of the country, roughly in proportion to the distribution of the population.
Fishing practices/systems

Most of the current production from Fiji’s offshore fisheries is by longline gear. OFD (2016) gives the details of the three categories of the locally based-longline national fleet:
  • Vessels less than 21m category - there are 10 vessels in this category using mainly ice for preserving their catch which is targeted towards the fresh sashimi market. They predominantly fish within Fiji’s Archipelagic Waters and Territorial Seas spending one to two weeks on each trip.
  • Vessels 21m and less than 30m category – there are 45 vessels in this category and they use ice slurry and freezers to preserve their catch. This category of vessel mainly fish within Fiji’s EEZ and spends three weeks to two months per fishing trip. Fresh catch are usually caught towards the end of the fishing trip to ensure that it meets local market standards.
  • Vessels greater than 30 m category – there are 47 vessels in this category and they use freezers to preserve their catch. This category of vessel mainly fish within Fiji’s EEZ and outside Fiji’s national jurisdiction targeting Albacore. They spend more than three months on each trip.

In 2014, approximately 66% of the offshore fishing of the locally-based national longline fleet occurred in Fiji’s EEZ with 34% in the high seas (OFD 2015).

A report by the Forum Fisheries Agency (McCoy et al. 2015) contains some information on the recent changes in the Fiji-based longline fleet. Many Fiji flag longline vessels are old, with some initially intended for other fisheries such as pole-and-line. They are often not able to compete with the newer, subsidized vessels from China that have entered the fishery. As a result, in the past 2-3 years two companies have ceased longlining and their assets were acquired by the remaining companies.

Coastal fishing uses a wide variety of fishing techniques, and involves mainly small outboard-powered vessels. The most common commercial means are gillnetting, hook-and-line fishing, and spearfishing. Some of the commercial fisheries use highly specialized techniques, such as for the capture of aquarium fish. A single fishing trip by a commercial operation often involves the use of several types of gear.

Subsistence fishing revolves around reef gleaning, hook-and-line fishing, and spearfishing. It has been estimated that 50 percent of all rural households are involved in some form of subsistence fishing.
Main resources

The main offshore fishery resources are the tunas and tuna-like species. Albacore, yellowfin, and bigeye being the main target species of longlining. The tiny amount of purse seining in the Fiji fishing waters targets skipjack and yellowfin9.

A Forum Fisheries Agency report (McCoy et al. 2015) describes the most prominent pattern in the tuna resources:“A decline in albacore catch rates that began around 2009 has coincided with an increase in fishing effort that began in 2008. Although the albacore resource does not appear threatened, i.e. stocks are not in an overfished state and no over-fishing is occurring, the situation has resulted in some major economic problems for Fiji’s domestic longline fleet.”

In terms of status of the offshore resources, recent information from the Scientific Committee of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC 2016) shows:
  • Skipjack: The stock is currently only moderately exploited and fishing mortality levels are sustainable.
  • Bigeye: Recent analysis indicates that overfishing is occurring for the bigeye tuna stock. In order to reduce fishing mortality to that at maximum sustainable yield a large reduction is required.
  • Yellowfin: The current total biomass and spawning biomass are higher than at levels associated with maximum sustainable yields. Therefore, yellowfin tuna is not considered overfished.
  • South Pacific Albacore: There is no indication that current levels of catch are causing overfishing, particularly given the age selectivity of the fisheries. It should be noted that longline catch rates are declining, and catches over the last 10 years have been at historically high levels and are increasing.

According to the Fiji Tuna Management and Development Plan (2012-2016), a bio-economic analysis of the longline fleet during the period 2002-2004 suggested that in order to maintain a sustainable fleet, there should be about 52 longline licenses issued to fish in the Fiji EEZ. A follow up analysis in 2012, indicated that the estimated maximum economic yield for the harvest sector occurs at an effort level of around 16.5 million hooks or around 45 longline vessels.

Fiji has a wide range of coastal fisheries resources, including finfish, invertebrates, and plants. The most important coastal fishery resources of Fiji are given in Table 6. The table includes items that range from a single species to large categories and has some overlaps

(9) No tuna purse seining occurred in 2014 and only a very small amount in 2015 (OFD 2015, OFD 2015).

Table 6: The Important Coastal Fishery Resources of Fiji

Inshore fish:


reef fish


small pelagics

chub mackerel

aquarium fish



large pelagics

sea urchins

sea cucumbers

coconut crab

mangrove crab

other crabs


banded prawn-killer

shallow marine prawns


edible seaweeds


black-lip pearl oyster

giant clams

ark shell

other edible molluscs

collectors shells

cephalopod molluscs

ornamental coral

black coral

live reef food fish

Source: Gillett et al. 2014

The “inshore fish” category in the table covers many types of finfish. IAS (2009) in a survey in 2008-2009 of the finfish fishing of 46 villages in 22 districts of 10 provinces in Fiji involving 2,802 fishing trips offers some insight into the types of finfish that are especially common in the coastal fisheries (Figure 1).

Units: kg of fish encountered by the survey

Little assessment work on coastal fishery resources has been carried out on a Fiji-wide basis since the early 1990s. Although much surveying of resources has been done at the traditional fishing area level by the Fisheries Department (196 sites) and NGOs/IAS (about 135 sites), possibly on different spatial scales, there has been virtually no work from those surveys oriented towards examining the stock status of specific resources across all sites (e.g. the status of trochus in Fiji).

The only new assessments of specific coastal fishery resources across the country in the last two decades appear to be on pearl oysters (Passfield 1995), bumphead parrotfish (Dulvy and Polunin, 2004), corals (Lovell and Whippy-Morris, 2008), beche de mer (Pakoa et al. 2013), and groupers (Sadovy, per.com.).The following is a summary of the results of those assessments:
  • Beche de mer: From the fishery-dependent information, it seems that sea cucumber fisheries in Fiji has experienced ‘boom-and-bust’ cycles, as commonly experienced elsewhere. In-water assessments indicate that densities are low across all sites and for some species they are critically low.
  • Pearl oysters: Based on the survey results, present stock numbers of P. margaritifera were considered too low to support an expansion of pearl farming in the areas surveyed.
  • Hard corals: Overall, the survey showed the percent of extraction with regard to colony numbers is 0.0085% of the total estimated colonies on the reef flat. It was concluded that the total living coral cover reduced by coral collection is minimal.
  • Giant bumphead parrotfish: A survey at several locations in remote islands of Fiji indicate that the giant humphead parrotfish has often been over-exploited to the point of local extinction.
  • Groupers: The research indicates that a number of medium to larger size grouper species have undergone marked declines over the last several decades.
Management applied to main fisheries

Fiji’s tuna fisheries are managed on regional and national levels.
  • On the regional level, Fiji is a member of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) that was established by the Convention for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. Fiji and the other 26 members of the commission enact tuna management measures at the annual WCPFC meeting. From Fiji’s perspective, the two most important measures are: (1) the Conservation and Management Measure for South Pacific Albacore, and (2) the Conservation and Management Measure for Bigeye, Yellowfin and Skipjack Tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.
  • On the national level, the tuna fisheries are managed by the Fiji Tuna Management and Development Plan (2012-2016). The plan’s two most important management tools for longline fisheries in Fijian waters are: (1) a total allowable catch for all tuna species, and (2) a restriction on the number of vessels.

Coastal fisheries are managed at both national and local levels. At the national level the Fisheries Department’s main coastal fisheries management tool is the licensing of commercial fishers. Other activities that are related to management are the enforcement of the Fisheries Act and related regulations, formal establishment of marine protected areas, surveying traditional fishing areas and working with the associated communities in the preparation of management plans.

At the local level, there are 409 traditional fisheries management areas (qoliqoli in Fijian) that have been demarcated and recognized by government. In those areas communities presently have use rights, but the actual ownership of inshore fishing areas is legally vested with the government - a feature that originated in Fiji’s “Deed of Cession” of 1881 stating that “the ownership of islands, waters, reefs and foreshores are vested in “Her Majesty and Her Successors”. In practice, the usual situation is that local traditional authorities establish rules for fishing in each qoliqoli, with the main management tool being the selective exclusion of outsiders from fishing in those areas. Other common management tools include the establishment of permanent or temporary no-take zones, seasonal bans on certain species, and prohibition of certain fishing practices (e.g. night spearfishing).

No discussion of coastal fisheries management in Fiji would be complete without mention of the Fiji Locally–Managed Marine Area Network (FLMMA). The network is generally recognized as being very effective and has received regional and international acclaim. Box 2 summarizes the history and characteristics of FLMMA.

Box 2: The Fiji Locally-Managed Marine Area Network

The community of Ucunivanua on the eastern coast of Fiji’s largest island was the site of the first locally managed marine area (LMMA) in Fiji in 1997. Scientists from the University of the South Pacific supported environmentalists and local villagers in declaring a ban on harvesting within a stretch of inshore waters for three years, building on the tradition of prohibitions for certain species. After seven years of local management, the clam populations had rebounded and village incomes had risen significantly with increased harvests.

The success of the Ucunivanua LMMA spread rapidly, and a support network – the FLMMA – grew from this. By 2009, the network had increased to include some 250 LMMAs, covering 10 745 kms2 of coastal fisheries, or more than 25% of Fiji’s inshore area. The network has also inspired replication in countries across the Pacific.

Once a community in Fiji makes its interest in local marine management known, the FLMMA Network and various partner organizations determine who will be the lead agency, and discussions are held with the community to ensure that the goals of all parties are clear and aligned. This initial planning and education process can take up to one year. Network staff then offers assistance through three types of workshop: action planning, biological monitoring, and socioeconomic monitoring. The action-planning workshops are adapted from Participatory Learning and Action methods and include sessions on mapping the village, understanding historical trends, and identifying local stakeholders. The biological and socioeconomic monitoring components of the workshops focus on identifying resource use patterns, threats to local resources, and the root causes of these threats. Finally, a community action plan is developed.

While the establishment of a tabu area (where a no-take zone or ban on destructive fishing practices is declared) is usually a central part of an LMMA, the action plan also contains ways to address other issues faced by the community, such as lack of income sources, poor awareness of environmental issues, pollution, and sometimes, declining community cohesiveness.

Source: modified from UNDP (2012)Management objectives

In general, all government fisheries management measures must conform to the Fisheries Act and other legislation. The Fisheries Act (more formally known as “an act to make provision for the regulation of fishing”) is, however, silent on the objectives of the regulation10. In practice, the objectives of fisheries management in Fiji have historically been resource protection, extraction of economic benefits, and safeguarding the flow of food to communities.For offshore fisheries, the Offshore Fisheries Management Decree 2012 states “The objective of this Decree shall be to conserve, manage and develop Fiji fisheries to ensure long term sustainable use for the benefit of the people of Fiji”.The Fiji Tuna Management and Development Plan (2012-2016) lists the high level management goals for offshore fisheries:
  1. To contribute to Fiji’s GDP through promotion of economic development growth in onshore and offshore tuna fisheries;
  2. To increase investment and employment opportunities in tuna fisheries;
  3. To promote resilience of tuna fisheries to climate change risks thereby protecting fisheries investments and ensuring food security;
  4. To maintain ecosystem health (including. addressing by-catch) and to exercise precautionary principle and integrated fisheries management;
  5. To manage Fiji’s tuna fisheries under rights-based and integrated fisheries management frameworks thereby ensuring conservation and management of tuna resources;
  6. To maintain stock sustainability to support economic growth in tuna fisheries;
  7. To encourage institutional strengthening that promotes transparency, accountability and efficient delivery of services by the Fisheries Department, including supporting growth in the domestic fishing industry.

For coastal commercial fisheries, there are no formal objectives in the legislation but judging by past activities of the Fisheries Department, the management objectives are to promote sustainability of resources, maximize economic returns, and assure that commercial fisheries do not negatively interact with subsistence fisheries.

For coastal subsistence fisheries, management is generally for the protection of village food supplies. Recent initiatives sponsored by international NGOs also involve biodiversity conservation as a management objective.

Institutional arrangements

The main institution involved with fisheries management in Fiji is the Fisheries Department11. In practice, the main office of the Fisheries Department in Toorak, Suva deals with offshore fisheries management, while much of the management of coastal fisheries is handled by the four divisional offices: Northern, Central, Eastern, and Western (see also below).

The Offshore Fisheries Management Decree specifies the fisheries management responsibilities of the Minister, Permanent Secretary, and Director of Fisheries, as well as establishing the Offshore Fisheries Advisory Council. According to the Decree, the function of the Council is to advise the Minister on policy matters relating to offshore fisheries conservation, management, development and sustainable use.

With respect to coastal fisheries, the Fisheries Department has an advisory role to the traditional authorities and is responsible for legislation and enforcement and to provide support on commercial viability. The Department issues and regulates licenses to fish in customary fishing areas upon prior approval of the head of the designated ownership unit.

Many coastal communities in Fiji have institutions that deal with local fisheries management issues. Box 3 describes the arrangements at Navakavu, a well-managed area just to the west of Suva.

(10) Neither the words “management” or “objective” are found in the Act.

(11) In mid-2016 the Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests became a separate ministry.

Box 3: Fisheries management institutional arrangements at Navakavu

The chief of the entire Navakavu area is the paramount guardian of the traditional fishing area (qoliqoli in Fijian) but delegates much of the management to a qoliqoli committee. It was formed to administer everything to do with fishing ground management. The committee also coordinates interactions with the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network and is the voice of Navakavu in various institutions concerning environmental issues. The committee consists of a chairman, secretary, treasurer and members. The members also include one representative from each of the seven land-owning units, community biological monitors, fish wardens (one from each village), leader of the youth drama group, and the four village headmen. There are in total 21 members of the Navakavu qoliqoli committee.

Meetings are carried out once every two months. At each meeting they discuss progress with their fisheries management action plan (MPA), provide meeting updates, review their specific action plans and address emerging concerns about MPA implementation.

In terms of substantive decision-making, the qoliqoli committee may propose an idea to meetings of the traditional council which is comprised of representatives from the different clans of Navakavu. Those meetings have the final say on important issues. Decisions of the council are announced at village meetings by headmen, with people attending the

meetings relaying the information to the rest of the community.

Source: Gillett (2014a)
Fishing communities

The concept of “fishing communities” is not very relevant to Fiji. Those individuals that are involved in the offshore fisheries do not live in separate communities, but rather are widely dispersed around where the vessels are based, mainly the Suva urban area. Coastal commercial fishers are found in all urban areas, but they do not reside in specific communities. Nearly all households in coastal villages are involved in coastal fishing activities. It could therefore be stated that all villages in Fiji that are rural and coastal are “fishing communities”.
Inland sub-sector

Compared to the marine fisheries of Fiji, the production from inland fisheries is quite small. Most of the inland catch comes from the two largest islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Inland fishing is most important for villages that are isolated from the coast and those that are located next to rivers.

Harvests of freshwater finfish and invertebrates in Fiji consist mainly of freshwater clams (Batissa violacea), eels, various species of freshwater crustaceans, and introduced fish such as tilapia and carps.

There is no consolidated accounting of the catches of these species. Gillett (2016) summarizes the fragmented information that exists:
  • A freshwater clam known locally as kai (Batissa violacea) is found in all major river systems in Fiji, and is the basis of the largest freshwater fishery in the country and one of the top three in the Pacific.
  • The 2004 annual report of the Fisheries Department (DoF 2005) gives the amounts of various fishery products sold in municipal and non-municipal markets in 2004. 2 526 tonnes of Batissa12 were sold at the two types of markets for a total price of about F$2.2 million (US$1.8 million). 500 tonnes of various species of freshwater crustaceans were sold for a total price of about F$6 million (US$3.5 million).
  • Richards (1994) reports annual markets sales of Batissa ranged from 1000 tonnes to 1800 tonnes in the period 1986 to 1992.
  • Fisheries Department staff indicate that the harvest of clams/crustaceans for non-market purposes is probably less than what is marketed.
  • Eels are taken in fresh water in Fiji. Nandlal (2005) reports they are an important source of protein for the rural population, but Richards (1994) states there is not a strong local preference for freshwater eels and there is no organised fishery for them.
  • Thaman (1990) indicates that flagtails (Kulia spp.) and a number of gobi species are important for interior villages, but that abundance has decreased in recent years.
  • The number of fish species in Fiji rivers have been significantly affected by loss of catchment forest cover and introductions of tilapia. On average, stream networks with established tilapia populations have 11 fewer species of native fish than do intact systems. (Jenkins et al. 2009)

(12) This includes the shell weight. The raw meat recovery from it is approximately 20%.

Catch profile

Any estimate of the production of Fiji’s freshwater fisheries is largely guesswork. Gillett (2016) ventured an approximation of 3 731 tonnes, with a value to the fishers of F$7 408 000 (US$3 741 414).
Landing sites

Inland fishing is mainly for home consumption, with some market and roadside sales.
Fishing practices/systems

The largest inland fishery is that for the freshwater clam. It is dominated by women, who can spend three to four hours per day, four to five days per week free-diving for the clam in rivers, and taking them from the mud by hand.

Most other types of inland fishing are carried out with very small-scale gear. This consists of baited lines, spears, a variety of traditional woven traps, hollow poles and cane knives. With the exception of Batissa, the typical fishing and landing areas are small streams near villages.
Main resources

As stated above, the main resources are the freshwater clam, various crustaceans, gobies, flagtails, eels, and tilapia. No assessments have been made of the status of these resources.
Management applied to main fisheries

There is no active management of inland fisheries in Fiji. In general, there is the thinking in Fiji that problems and solutions of freshwater in general run in parallel with inland fisheries, so interventions to improve water quality are likely to improve inland fisheries.

There is a current NGO initiative that may be considered related to inland fisheries management. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is attempting to increase the economic benefits for communities from freshwater clam fisheries by developing a quality assurance program. The project’s focus is on enhancing consumer confidence and attracting investment in value-addition and export.
Aquaculture sub-sector

There has been considerable aquaculture work in Fiji (marine, brackishwater, freshwater) stretching over a long period and covering a large variety of species. The Fiji Government and donors have made a substantial investment in aquaculture. The current annual aquaculture production of the country is, however, quite small.

Recent aquaculture efforts in Fiji have included tilapia, freshwater prawns, carps, saltwater shrimp, milkfish, seaweed, giant clams, trochus, pearl oysters, bêche–de-mer, sponges, turtles, mud crab, and corals. The primary focus of the Fisheries Department in the last few years has been on tilapia, shrimp, seaweed, and pearl oysters.

An SPC study used available documentation and interviews with Fisheries Department staff and producers of aquaculture products to determine Fiji’s 2014 aquaculture production. The results are summarized in Table 7.

Table 7: Summary of Fiji Aquaculture Production in 2014


2014 production

volume (kg, or pieces if noted)

2014 Production values (FJ$)2014 Production values (US$)
Tilapia150 500526 750 266 035
Freshwater shrimp11 462183 392 92 622
Penaeid shrimp5 617140 425 70 922
Pearls103.21 578 000 796 970
Pearl oyster spat 45 000 pieces90 000 45 455
Seaweed30 00027 000 13 636
Cultured coral2 706 pieces150 000 75 758
Cultured rock37 530 pieces  
Mud crab7 000180 000 90 909
Total204 682.2 kg plus 85 236 pieces F$2 875 567 US$1 452 307
Source: Gillett (2016)

According to the SPC Aquaculture Portal, Fiji’s aspirations in aquaculture are:

  • Develop aquaculture in rural areas as a long-term alternative to the limited inshore fisheries resources
  • Promote sustainable aquaculture development as a means of creating food security, income, employment as well as increasing foreign exchange earnings
  • Carry out research and development, anticipating and meeting the needs of the aquaculture industry and the market
  • Encourage education and training to ensure that personnel at all levels are appropriately skilled
  • Ensure that aquaculture is conducted in an ecologically sustainable manner including controls on the introduction and movement of aquatic organisms
  • Make effective extension services available to the aquaculture industry

Recently the government opened a multi-species hatchery in Ra Province. The facility is to provide tilapia fry and post larval shrimp for aquaculture operations.

The aquaculture subsector is currently subject to controls under several laws. In late 2016, a comprehensive aquaculture bill was being considered by parliament. The bill is expected to be enacted in 2017
Recreational sub-sector

The Offshore Fisheries Management Decree defines "recreational fishing" as “fishing done for leisure and without regard to earnings, gain or profit”.

Recreational fishing is carried out in two main ways in Fiji: (1) local residents fishing from the shore, bridges, and docks, as well as trolling outside the reefs from small vessels, and (2) tourists chartering larger vessels (often based at resorts) for trolling outside the reefs. There are several fishing clubs in Fiji, including those based in Suva, Pacific Harbour, and Denarau Island – and several fishing competitions are held each year.

The recreational sub-sector is not actively managed from a fisheries perspective, but the operation of fishing charter vessels is tightly controlled from the safety perspective by the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji.
Post-harvest sectorFish utilization

In general, Fiji’s offshore fisheries produce for export markets, with sub-prime grades of tuna and bycatch sold locally. The coastal fisheries generally supply domestic markets, with the important exceptions of beche de mer, trochus, and aquarium fish which are exported to China, Europe, and the USA, respectively.

A recent report by the Forum Fisheries Agency summarises the average annual tuna exports of Fiji over the 2008-2013 period (Table 8).

Table 8: Average Annual Volumes and Values of Fiji Tuna Exports

  Product Category





Destinations by Value (percent)
USA market Whole round 1 506 5 875 203 USA (100)
  Fresh and frozen, value added 430 2 420 383 USA (100)
Non-USA market Fresh tuna 802 7 673 678

Japan (83)

New Zealand (11)

Australia (5)

Others (1)

  Frozen tuna 6 430 19 503 833

Japan (59)

Thailand (22)

Korea (12)

Others (7)

Source: Modified from McCoy at al. (2015)

Tuna processing in Fiji has historically been very important. Box 4 gives an overview of the various tuna processors in Fiji.

Box 4: Tuna Processing in Fiji in 2015

The major government investment in the fisheries sector is in the Pacific Fishing Company (PAFCO), a loining and canning facility at Levuka, initially constructed in 1976 as a joint venture with a Japanese partner C. Itoh (now Itochu). The plant is fully owned by the Fiji government and since 1999 has produced albacore loins for Bumble Bee Seafoods on a contractual basis. Frozen, cooked albacore loins are produced by PAFCO and shipped to the Bumble Bee canning facility in California. Some canning is also done for the local market. Installed capacity is about 120 tonnes per day but has operated at around 80 tonnes for the last several years resulting in total annual throughput of between 20 000 and 23 000 mt.

There are six facilities of varying sizes that process and/or semi-process tuna (such as heading and gutting for fresh export) that serve the Fiji-based longline fleet. Most have access to products from their own fleets that are owned, chartered or otherwise associated with the enterprise. Two companies, Solander and SeaFresh, export fish but have processing done by TriPacific Marine Ltd. Fresh yellowfin, bigeye and some albacore is packed and sent to markets in the US, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. One processor, TriPacific, a subsidiary of Foods Pacific, a family-owned food processing business in Suva does processing and servicing for vessel operators but does not have vessels of its own. The activities of the newest entrant, Blue Ocean Marine, are reported to be limited to frozen longline bycatch.

Viti Foods Ltd, a Fiji food processing subsidiary of the CJ Patel Group, cans tuna and mackerel for local sale and export. In 2014, it reportedly increased its investment in their plant by an undisclosed amount in order to increase production and meet global food safety compliance standards. The canning plant produces tuna and mackerel (the latter from imported raw material) under the Skipper (tuna) and Angel (mackerel) brands. The company is also said to do some private label canning for local supermarket chains.

TriPacific Marine has invested in processing machinery and upgraded their plant to produce pouched tuna and wahoo for the domestic and export market in addition to other fresh/frozen products. The pouch tuna products are aimed at catering markets in Australia and New Zealand, while wahoo is said to be produced in a smaller 300 gram consumer size for domestic sale.

Source: McCoy et al. (2015)

There is little processing of the finfish catch that is sold domestically. Most are sold whole (either with or without ice), with some freezing and smoking of fish during periods of large catches.

Much of the fish purchased by Fiji’s large tourism industry is imported. Reasons cited are that tourists from overseas want types of seafood with which they are familiar (e.g. salmon) along with the inability of small-scale fishers to produce consistently the quantities/species/quality that the larger resorts demand.
Fish markets

Table 8 above gives the main overseas markets for Fiji’s tuna. In general, fresh tuna is for the high-value sashimi market (Japan, USA) and frozen tuna is for canning (American Samoa, Asia).

Domestic sales of finfish (both pelagic and reef-associated) and invertebrates take place either in (a) municipal markets, (b) non-municipal markets (fish shops, butchers and supermarkets and hotels), or (c) by the roadside. There are 16 municipal markets in Fiji, seven in the Central Division, four in the Western Division, and five in the Northern Division.

Subsistence fisheries, as the name implies, are focused on production of food for home use. Significant amounts of fish are, however, given away to friends and relatives. Often attempts are made to market any of the valuable species captured - if a market exists (e.g. lobster to a resort).
Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sector

A recent study by the SPC (Gillett 2016) attempted to quantify the fishery-related benefits received by Fiji and other Pacific Island countries. The study gave the available information on the contribution of fishing/fisheries to GDP, exports, government revenue, and employment. Unless otherwise noted, the information in this section is from that study. Role of fisheries in the national economy

The Fiji Bureau of Statistics makes the official estimate of fishing to GDP. The SPC study examined the official methodology and, using its independent estimate of the value of fisheries production, re-estimated the fishing contribution.
  • The official contribution showed a 2014 fishing contribution to GDP of US$65.8 million, or 1.8% of GDP (source: unpublished data, Fiji Bureau of Statistics).
  • The contribution of fishing to GDP was re-estimated by the SPC study for the year 2014. It showed a contribution of US$59.3 million, or 1.6% of GDP.

In 2014, Fiji received US$555 814 (F$1 100 513) as access fees for foreign fishing. Because the total revenue of the Fiji government was F$2 380 735 000 (US$1 202 391 414) in 2014 (Fiji Bureau of Statistics), the 2014 access fee payment amounted to about 0.04% of total government revenue for the year.

Table 8 above gives information on the exports from Fiji’s offshore fisheries. Information on Fiji’s coastal fishery exports can be obtained from a database maintained by the Fisheries Department. The information in the database originates from the system of compulsory coastal fishery export permits. Table 9 shows the 2014 exports either by unit or weight in kilogrammes.

Table 9: Coastal Fishery Exports 2014

  Unit Total
Aquarium products Kg 1 169 303
  Pcs 736 566
Beche de mer Kg 132 127
  Pcs 70
Fish steak (reef fish) Kg 211
Gastropods Pcs 100
Invertebrate products Kg 271
Ornamental products Kg 600
  Pcs 2 064 480
Other marine products Kg 24 823 233
Reef fish Kg 17 420
Shells Kg 39 061
  Pcs 2 005 676
Source: Fisheries Department unpublished data

Gillett (2016) shows that for each year during the period 2010-2014, the export of fishery products represented from 5.9% to 19.5% of the value of all Fiji’s exports.

FAO import/export data for 2014 show that the value of fishery product exports were US$205.4 million and imports were US$57.6 million.
Food security

In recent years there has not been any national nutrition work in Fiji relevant to determining fish consumption. The results from some of the older studies on fish consumption in Fiji are:
  • Fisheries Division (2000) gives annual seafood consumption per head based on the official production data divided by the Fiji population. The results show that in 1999 the rate was 56.0 kg, of which subsistence fisheries provided 46 percent.
  • Preston (2000) using 1995 FAO production, import, and export information indicated the apparent per capita supply of fish in Fiji was 50.7 kg per year.
  • The results of the 2004 Fiji National Nutrition Survey (NFNC 2007) do not provide much insight into the level of seafood consumption, but rather the frequency. Daily consumption of fresh fish in indigenous Fijian households was 23.4%. Canned fish was eaten by only 8.3% on a daily basis. In Indo-Fijian households only 2.4% reported eating fresh fish and 1.9% eating canned fish on a daily basis.

Bell et al. (2009) uses information from household income and expenditure surveys (HIES) conducted between 2001 and 2006 to estimate patterns of fish consumption in Pacific Island countries. The HIES were designed to enumerate fish consumption based on both subsistence and cash acquisitions. For Fiji the per capita fish consumption (whole weight equivalent) was 15.0 kg per capita per year in urban areas (fresh fish made up 45% of this amount) and 25.3 kg per capita per year in rural areas (66% fresh fish).

The SPC ProcFish programme did survey work at Dromuna, Muaivuso, Mali, and Lakeba (Friedman et al. 2010). That work included estimates of per capita fish consumption. The results (Table 10) show very high consumption of fresh fish at the four sites.

Table 10: Fishery product consumption at ProcFish sites (kg/person/year)

VillageFresh fish consumptionInvertebrate consumptionCanned fish consumption

Average across

the four sites
Source: Friedman et al. (2010)

Another aspect of food security is the role of fish following disasters. Fiji is prone to natural disasters, especially cyclones and floods, which can devastate food crops. The effects on fisheries resources are much less and the food production from fisheries in recovery periods is quite important.

In a study of coastal fisheries in Fiji (Gillett et al. 2014) an attempt was made to quantify employment in coastal fisheries in the country. That report stated:
  • Starkhouse (2009) appears to be the most methodical study of employment in Fiji’s coastal fisheries. That study estimates the number of (a) subsistence fishers in the country to be about 23 000, (b) full-time artisanal fishers to be about 5 000, and (c) part-time artisanal fishers to be 12 000.
  • An Asian Development Bank study (Hand et al. 2005) estimated the number of subsistence fishers in Fiji to be “3 000 full-time equivalents” and the number employed in offshore fishing to be “510 full-time equivalents”.
  • If some assumptions are made about the data from the two sources (i.e. 3 part-time artisanal fishers equals one full-time equivalent, 23 000 part-time subsistence fishers equals 3 000 full-time equivalents), then there are (full time equivalents) 9 000 artisanal coastal fishers and 3 000 coastal subsistence fishers.

The Forum Fisheries Agency has a programme that collects data on tuna-related employment in a standard form. FFA (2015) contains information on the employment of people from Fiji in the tuna industry (Table 11). A total of 3 667 Fijians were employed in the tuna industry in 2014. Across the Pacific in 2014, a total of 17 663 people were employed as crew on tuna vessels or in tuna processing and ancillary work. The tuna employment in Fiji therefore represents 20.8% of regional tuna employment.

Table 11: Tuna-related employment in Fiji (number of people employed)

Processing and ancillary1 0546301 0181 0631 4522 000
Local crew1 2902283535311 2271 667
Total2 3448581 3711 5942 6793 667
Source: FFA (2015)
Rural development

An important aspect of the government’s fishery development programme is the enhancement the livelihoods of fishers in the more isolated parts of the country. The main strategy for doing this is through the establishment of rural fishery service centers. The concept is that the centers provide the necessary infrastructure to catalyze commercial fishing operations in rural areas. This includes the provision of ice plants, jetties, and slipways, mechanical workshops, and vehicles for transportation of fish and fisheries products to markets. Centers have been established in Wainikoro in Macuata, Levuka in Lomaiviti, Kavala in Kadavu, and two centers in Lau (Vanua balavu and Lakeba).

The Fijian government has a major investment at the tuna processing facilities of the Pacific Fishing Company (PAFCO) on Ovalau Island northeast of Suva. The main purpose of the investment is to provide employment in an area of Fiji where there are few jobs. PAFCO remains the single largest fish processing employer in the country with about 900 employees. In 2009, the wages and salaries paid by fish processors in Fiji was estimated at F$8.9 million, with PAFCO’s share at F$5.4 million. (McCoy et al. 2015).

Aquaculture development is also associated with rural development. Fisheries Department annual reports state that the objective of promoting aquaculture in the country includes improving the nutritional status of rural populations and stemming the flow of migration from rural to urban areas. In practice, the effects of aquaculture on rural livelihoods are most noticeable in the interior of the two largest islands and in the isolated islands in the Eastern District (Ono-i-Lau, Gau, Batiki).
Trends, issues and developmentConstraints and opportunities

Some major constraints in the fisheries sector are:
  • The fully-exploited nature of many of the coastal resources, especially those close to the urban markets;
  • Difficulties associated with marketing products from remote areas where abundance is greatest to urban areas where there are greater sales’ opportunities;
  • Difficulties for small-scale fishers in accessing offshore fishery resources;
  • Competition by offshore vessels for access to limited infrastructure and services;
  • High exploitation of tuna resources outside the Fiji zone by foreign fishing vessels, and the associated reduction in catch rates in the Fiji zone;
  • Slow development of aquaculture’s contribution to domestic food supply;
  • Competition from more efficient foreign producers of fishery and aquaculture products;
  • Lack of awareness on the part of coastal communities of limitations in fisheries development and the consequences of over-exploitation.

Opportunities in the sector include:
  • Value-addition to fishery products for both domestic consumption and for export;
  • Greater linkages to the expanding tourism industry;
  • Expansion of marine aquarium fisheries;
  • Exploitation of offshore resources outside the Fiji EEZ;
  • Greater use of fish aggregating devices to promote offshore fishing by small-scale fishers;
  • Greater use of management partnerships (community, government, NGO) in the management of coastal fisheries;
  • Increasing the effectiveness of the Fisheries Department by enhancing stakeholder input;
  • Creation of a coastal fisheries management division in the Fisheries Department to deal with the over-exploitation of important coastal fishery resources.
Government and non-government sector policies and development strategies

The Fijian Government recognizes the need for a fisheries policy to guide the work of the Fisheries Department and other government agencies involved in the sector. Planning for such a policy started in early 2014. In 2015 FAO, the Pacific Community, and the Forum Fisheries Agency worked with the Fisheries Department and other fishery stakeholders in the country to formulate a fisheries policy. Two national workshops were held and a draft Fiji National Fisheries Policy 2017-2037 was produced in late 2016. That draft policy contains principles, key policy goals, and cross-cutting issues and strategies.

Until the national fisheries policy is finalized and released, indications of its content can be obtained from documents such as text of the “principles and approaches section” of the Fiji Tuna Management and Development Plan. The plan states that the work of the Fisheries Department in offshore fisheries is to feature:
  • rights based & integrated fisheries management systems
  • ecosystem & integrated-based approach
  • the precautionary principle
  • participatory & co-management approaches
  • equal & fair distribution of wealth
  • Trans-boundary & bycatch management
  • robust monitoring, control, and surveillance

For coastal fisheries the two major de facto policies are that the Fisheries Department should be oriented towards: (1) expanding fisheries production, particularly in remote areas, and (2) protecting the flow of fish to the people of Fiji. There is considerable on-going debate among fishery stakeholders on the relative importance of these two policies, especially when they conflict.

The Fiji Fishing Industry Association (FFIA) represents the interest of the offshore fishing industry. The association has no formal policies but from a statement in the FFIA constitution on the purpose of the association, its policy orientation is apparent:
  • To work with Fijian government agencies in the promotion, development, and management of Fiji’s offshore fisheries;
  • To represent the interests of Fiji offshore fishing companies to Fijian delegations to regional and international negotiations dealing with offshore fishery resources.
Research, education and trainingResearch

A large amount of fisheries research has been undertaken in Fiji, much of which is listed in the Fiji Fisheries Bibliography (McDowell 1993). The research carried out on 44 of the main fishery resources in Fiji is summarized in the Fiji Fisheries Resources Profiles (Richards 1994).

Research needs for Fiji’s offshore tuna fisheries are very different from those for inshore fisheries or aquaculture. Due to the regional nature of the tuna resources, the great expense of tuna research, and the high level of expertise required for data analysis, much of the research on tuna is undertaken in collaboration with the Oceanic Fisheries Programme of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, a regional organization located in New Caledonia.

Gillett et al. (2014) comments that little research related to coastal fishery resources has taken place since the early 1990s. One explanation could be that such research actually took place but there was less attention to obtaining/preserving the survey reports. Other reasons could be a re-focusing of research efforts of the then Fisheries Division on offshore fisheries, or an orientation to surveys that do not produce publicly available reports (such as that for environmental impact statements), or the changing preferences of donors and academic institutions. There was also a considerable turnover of staff in the late 1980s.

The University of the South Pacific (located in Suva) also regularly undertakes marine research activities in Fiji, often focusing on commercially important species. The University has undertaken biological studies on sea cucumbers, deep-water shrimps and marine algae, and also carries out social, economic and post-harvest research relevant to fisheries. In recent years much of the research has been oriented towards the genetics of marine organisms.

Starting in the early 2000s, the Fisheries Department has been involved in a new wave of research: the marine resource inventory surveys (MRIS), which are undertaken at the level of local traditional fishing areas - and are not involved in producing national-level resource information but rather local inventories.
Education and training

Education related to fisheries in Fiji is undertaken as:
  • academic training in biological, economic and other aspects of fisheries from the University of the South Pacific in Suva.
  • practical aspects of fisheries and certification of vessel officers by the Fiji National University in Suva;
  • training courses are frequently organized by the regional organizations: the Pacific Community in New Caledonia and the Forum Fisheries Agency in the Solomon Islands.
  • courses and workshops are also given by NGOs and by bilateral donors, such as those by Japan.
  • Many government fisheries officers and academics in Fiji have received advanced degrees in fishery-related subjects at overseas universities, especially those in Australia, Japan, and the United Kingdom.
Foreign aid

Fiji receives technical assistance in the fisheries sector from a number of bilateral donors including Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. Assistance is also obtained from the international organisations of which Fiji is a member, including FAO and other United Nations organizations. The regional organisations serving Pacific Island countries, including the Forum Fisheries Agency, the Pacific Community, the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, and the Forum Secretariat have also been active in supporting Fiji’s fisheries sector.

Major areas receiving donor support in recent years are aquaculture, fisheries wharves, community-based management, rural service centers, turtle conservation, tuna data management, groupers, and marine biodiversity conservation.

External funding of the large number of NGOs that work in Fiji’s fisheries is substantial. Gillett et al. (2014) estimate that the 10 most important of those agencies spend about US$1.9 million (F$3.4 million) annually. The major sources for that funding are, in particular, the American-based philanthropic foundations, mainly Packard and MacArthur. Other major donors are smaller foundations based in Australia, Europe and the USA, with some government money from Germany, New Zealand and USA.
Institutional framework

The Fisheries Department is the government agency with primary responsibility for the fisheries sector. The evolution of the institution is given in Box 5.

Box 5: The evolution of the Fijian government’s Fisheries Agency

The British Colonial Office sponsored a visit of the fisheries specialist James Hornell to Fiji in 1939 to make recommendations on the development and protection of fisheries. He commented that “fisheries was looked after by no government officer and no person was deputed to see the enforcement of the few fisheries regulations which are on the Statute Book”. He recommended a fisheries service within the Department of Agriculture consisting of a Superintendent of Fisheries, three Fisheries Officers and a clerk/statistician, assisted by “trustworthy persons” to collect statistics. H. Van Pel of the South Pacific Commission visited Fiji in 1954 and recommended the establishment of a fisheries service within the Department of Agriculture, staffed by a biologist, a technical fisheries officer, and three local assistant fisheries officers. In the mid-1960s a single fisheries officer position was created within the Department of Agriculture and in the late 1960s a Fisheries Division was to be located in the new Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. That ministry became the Ministry of Primary Industries in 1985 and in 1994 it was re-named the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests. In 2001, Fisheries became a Department within the new Ministry of Fisheries and Forests. In late 2016 a separate Ministry of Fisheries was established.

Source: modified from Gillett et al. (2014)

According to the Department of Fisheries Annual Business Plan 2016, the Fisheries Department is responsible for:
  • administering and enforcing fisheries legislation
  • ensuring conservation, sustainable utilization and management of fisheries resources
  • approving and issuing fisheries related licenses and permits
  • providing training (staff and stakeholders), extension services and research
  • coordinating with key stakeholders including fisheries resource owners
  • aligning fisheries related activities to international and regional commitments
  • implementing related regulations/legislation administered by other government agencies

The Fisheries Department is organized into several divisions. There is one division for each of the four geographical divisions of Fiji and a division each for aquaculture, fleet, and offshore. There is presently considerable discussion about the need for a coastal fisheries management division.

The Fisheries Department maintains four divisional offices: Eastern (located in Lami), Central (Nausori), Western (Lautoka), and Northern (Labasa), plus several smaller offices around the country. There are a total of 23 fisheries stations nationwide. The Department has 19 ice plants (three in Lautoka alone), including those at the rural fisheries service centres. Two sea-going vessels are also operated by the Fisheries Department: the Tui ni Wasabula (over 30 years old) and the larger Bai ni Takali (arrived in 2010).

There are many NGOs that are active in the fisheries sector. The two most active and with the greatest influence are:
  • Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) opened its office in Fiji in 2001. Currently, they have four main types of interactions with fisheries in Fiji: (a) determining sustainable extraction levels (in both the periodically closed areas and in general areas) and associated means to achieve sustainability through the wise use of management tools (such as quotas, licensing, gear restrictions) and monitoring indicators of vulnerable species; and (b) maintaining or increasing populations of five iconic species: camouflage grouper, squaretail coral grouper, white-tipped reef shark, bumphead parrotfish, and humphead wrasse; (c) working on marine protected areas (MPAs). Since 2005, WCS has worked with communities to establish 257.61 km2 of locally-managed MPAs; and (d) studying land-based impacts on coastal fisheries, including work on modelling the impacts of sedimentation.
  • World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has had an office in Fiji since the mid-1990s, but their interaction with coastal fisheries in the country started about a decade later when they commenced work with MPAs, focusing initially on biodiversity issues. Currently, they have two major initiatives: (1) The Great Sea Reef, and (2) Sustainable Fisheries and Seafood. A major NZ-funded activity to connect the tourism sector with community-based fisheries management began in May 2014. The work features tracing the supply chain from LMMA sites to hotels, developing stock assessment in data deficient fisheries for management, and trialing adoption of pricing based on willingness to pay for managed fisheries.

The private sector fisheries stakeholders in the country are extremely fragmented. There is no grouping that represents the interests of small-scale fishers. For offshore fisheries, there are two competing associations - which in mid-2016 formed an umbrella association, the Fiji Fishing Industry Association.

Some of the important internet links related to fisheries in Fiji are:
  • www.fisheries.gov.fj - Details of the Fijian government’s Fisheries Division
  • www.spc.int/Coastfish/Countries/fiji/fiji.htm - Information on Fijian fisheries, links to other sites concerning Fiji and its fisheries, and some SPC reports on Fijian fisheries.
  • http://www.paclii.org/countries/fj.html - Text of Fijian fishery legislation

he major regional institutions involved with fisheries are the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), located in Honiara and the Pacific Community (SPC) in Noumea. Other players are the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) in Majuro, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) in Suva, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in Apia, and the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Suva. The various characteristics of those institutions are given in Table 12.

Table 12: Pacific island regional organizations involved in fisheries

  FFA SPC Other Regional Organizations with Fishery Involvement
Main area of emphasis Providing management advice on tuna fisheries and increasing benefits to PICs from tuna fishing activities. Most aspects of coastal fisheries and scientific research on tuna. Fisheries are only one aspect of the work programme of SPC, which also covers such issues as health, demography, and agriculture.

PNA – A sub-regional grouping of countries where most of the purse seining occurs;

SPREP – Environmental aspects of fisheries;

USP – The School of Marine Studies (SMS) is involved in a wide range of training;

PIFS – Major political initiatives, some natural resource economics; leading the trade negotiations with the EU, which has a major fisheries component.

Inter-regional relationships

The FFA/SPC relationship has had ups and downs over the years. There was much bickering/waste in early 1990s, tremendous improvement in mid/late 1990s.

An annual colloquium has helped the relationship. The staff who have moved between the two organisations have made a noticeable improvement in understanding.

Much of the success/benefits achieved by FFA/SPC cooperation depends on the personalities of FFA’s Director/Deputy and SPC’s Director of the Division of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems.

At least in theory, all regional organizations come under the umbrella of PIFS. Activities of the regional organisations are coordinated to some degree by the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP) which has a Marine Sector Working Group that meets at least once per year, but is limited by lack of resources for follow-up.

FFA originally provided secretariat services to the PNA, but the PNA broke away from FFA in 2010. Currently, there are some sensitivities in the relationship – but it appears to be improving.

Main strengths Direct contact with its governing body frequently throughout the year results in a high degree of accountability. Mandate with a tight focus on tuna eliminates considerable dissipation of effort. Due to Noumea being a pleasant place to live, there is considerable staff continuity. The Oceanic Fisheries Programme often sets the standard for tuna research in the world. Documentation of work is very good.

Because PIFS is under national leaders, it is considered the premier regional organization.

PNA has achieved considerable success and credibility in such areas as raising access fees, 100% observer coverage, eco-certification, high seas closures, and controls on FADs.

USP is centrally located in the region and the SMS has substantial infrastructure.

SPREP has close ties to the NGOs active in the marine sector.

Membership Australia and New Zealand, plus the Cook Islands, FSM, Fiji Kiribati, Marshalls, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, PNG, Samoa, Solomons, Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu Includes the major metropolitan countries, all Pacific Island territories, and the French/UK/US territories; The most inclusive of any regional organisation.

PNA: Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

USP: Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomons, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

SPREP: 21 Pacific island countries and territories, plus Australia, France, New Zealand, and USA.

PIFS: same as FFA

Source: adapted from Gillett (2014b)

The Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean entered into force in June 2004, and established the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). Fiji is a member of the commission, along with 26 other countries. The WCPFC has its headquarters in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, and has held 13 annual meetings to date.

Legal framework

According to the Department of Fisheries’s Annual Business Plan 2016, the legal framework for the fisheries sector is articulated in:
  • The Fisheries Act (cap 158)
  • The Marine Spaces Act Cap 158 A
  • fisheries regulations (in the various legal notices)
  • The Offshore Fisheries Management Decree 2012
  • The Offshore Fisheries Management Regulations 2014
  • related legislation & regulations: Environment Management Act 2005, Endangered Protected Species Act 2002, Fiji Maritime Transport Decree, and the Surfing Decree

The main features of the Fisheries Act are that the law:
  • defines Fiji’s fisheries waters as all internal waters, archipelagic waters, territorial seas and all waters within the exclusive economic zone;
  • establishes a Native Fisheries Commission charged with the duty of ascertaining customary fishing rights in each province;
  • prohibits the taking of fish in Fiji’s fisheries waters by way of trade or business without a licence;
  • states that every licence granted under the Act terminates on the next 31st of December after the day of issue, licences are personal to the holder and not transferable;
  • empowers any licensing officer, police officer, customs officer, honorary fish warden and any other officer empowered by the Minister to enforce the Act;
  • empowers the Minister to appoint honorary fish wardens whose duties are the prevention and detection of offences

The Fisheries Act also empowers the Minister to make regulations (a) prohibiting any practices or methods, or employment of equipment or devices or materials, which are likely to be injurious to the maintenance and development of a stock of fish; (b) prescribing areas and seasons within which the taking of fish is prohibited or restricted, either entirely or with reference to a named species; (c) prescribing limits to the size and weight of fish of named species which may be taken; (d) prescribing limits to the size of nets or the mesh of nets which may be employed in taking fish either in Fiji’s fisheries waters or in any specified part thereof; (e) regulating the procedure relating to the issue of and cancellation of licences and the registration of fishing boats, and prescribing the forms of applications and licences and the conditions to be attached; (f) prescribing “the fees to be charged upon the issue of licences, and the registration of fishing vessels which fees may differ as between British subjects and others”; (g) regulating any other matter relating to the conservation, protection and maintenance of a stock of fish which may be deemed requisite.

The Offshore Fisheries Management Decree was promulgated in 2012, with subsidiary regulations coming into force in 2014. The decree covers:
  • functions of the Minister, Permanent Secretary, Director of Fisheries and the Offshore Fisheries Advisory Council
  • fisheries conservation, management and development
  • licences and authorisations
  • monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement
  • port measures, trans-shipment and other services
  • jurisdiction and evidence

In late 2016, a comprehensive aquaculture bill was being considered by parliament. The bill is expected to be enacted in 2017.



Bell J., M. Kronen, A. Vunisea, W. Nash, G. Keeble, A. Demmke, S. Pontifex and S. Andréfouët. 2009. Planning the Use of Fish for Food Security in the Pacific. Marine Policy 33: 64–76.
DoF. 2005. Department of Fisheries Annual Report 2004. Ministry of Fisheries. Suva, Fiji.
Dulvy, N. and N. Polunin. 2004. Using Informal knowledge to Infer Human-Induced Rarity of a Conspicuous Reef Fish. Animal Conservation (2004) 7, 365–374, Zoological Society of London.
FFA. 2015. 2015 Economic Indicators Report. Forum Fisheries Agency. Honiara, Solomon Islands.
Fisheries Division. 2000. 1999 Annual Report of the Fisheries Division. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests. Suva, Fiji.
Friedman K., M. Kronen, A. Vunisea, S. Pinca, K. Pakoa, F. Magron, L. Chapman, S. Sauni, L. Vigliola, E. Tardy and P. Labrosse. 2010. Fiji Islands country report: profiles and results from survey work at Dromuna, Muaivuso, Mali and Lakeba (September to November 2002, April to June 2003, June and July 2007, and February 2009). Pacific Regional Oceanic and Coastal Fisheries Development Programme, Secretariat of the Pacific Community. Noumea, New Caledonia.
Gillett, R. 2014a. The Navakavu Community Fishery in Fiji: a case study of good management. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, 16 pages.
Gillett, R. 2014b. Pacific Perspectives on Fisheries and Sustainable Development. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, 50 pages.Bibliographic EntryGillett, R. 2016. Fisheries in the Economies of Pacific Island Countries and Territories. Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Forum Fisheries Agency, and Australian Aid, ISBN 978-982-00-1009-3.
Gillett, R., A. Lewis, and I. Cartwright. 2014. Coastal Fisheries in Fiji: Resources, Issues, and Enhancement of the Role of the Fisheries Department. Gillett, Preston and Associates for the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, 60 pages. .
Hand T., D. Davis and R. Gillett. 2005. Republic of the Fiji Islands: Fisheries Sector Review. Asian Development Bank. Manila.
IAS. 2009. A Nation-Wide Survey of Village-Based Fishing Pressure in Fiji. In: Jenkins AP, Prasad SR, Bacchiochi J, Skelton P, Yakub N (eds.), Proceedings of the Inaugural Fiji Islands Conservation Science Forum, Wetlands International-Oceania, Suva, Fiji.
Jenkins A., S. Jupiter, I. Qauqau and J. Atherton. 2009. The Importance of Ecosystem-Based Management for Conserving Aquatic Migratory Pathways on Tropical High Islands: A Case Study from Fiji. Aquatic Conservation. Volume 20, Issue 2.
Lovell E.R. and C. Whippy-Morris. 2008. Coral Fishery for Aquaria in Fiji: Sustainability and Management. 11th Pacific Science Inter-Congress Proceedings.
McCoy M., D. Itano and S., Pollard. 2015. A Forward-Looking Study of Development Opportunities in FFA Member Countries in the Tuna Industry. Gillett, Preston and Associates, for the Forum Fisheries Agency, Honiara, Solomon Islands.
McDowell, R. 1993. Fiji Fisheries Bibliography. Pacific Islands Marine Resources Information Network, University of the South Pacific.
Nandlal S. 2005. Catching eels in Pacific Islands countries and territories. SPC Fisheries Newsletter #115. Secretariat of the Pacific Community. Noumea, New Caledonia.
NFNC. 2007. 2004 Fiji National Nutrition Survey. National Food and Nutrition Centre, Suva.
OFD. 2015. Annual Scientific Report to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, Part 1: Information on Fisheries, Research and Statistics for 2014. Offshore Fisheries Division, Fisheries Department, Ministry of Fisheries and Forests.
OFD. 2016. Annual Scientific Report to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, Part 1: Information on Fisheries, Research and Statistics for 2014. Offshore Fisheries Division, Fisheries Department, Ministry of Fisheries and Forests.
Pakoa, K., W. Saladrau, W. Lalavanua, D. Valotu, and I. Tuinasavusavu. 2013. The Status of Sea Cucumber Resources and Fisheries Management in Fiji: September 2013. Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Fiji.
Passfield, K. 1995. Report of a Pearl Oyster Survey of W. Vanua Levu, Beqa, Totoya, and Makogai, in the Fiji Islands. South Pacific Commission, Noumea.
Preston G. 2000. Managing the Ocean. Report Prepared for the World Bank. Washington, D.C.
Richards A. 1994. Fiji Fisheries Resources Profiles, Report No.94/4, Forum Fisheries Agency. Honiara, Solomon Islands.
Richards, A. 1994. Fiji Fisheries Resources Profiles. Report No. 94/4. Forum Fisheries Agency, Honiara.
SNA. 2009. System of National Accounts 2008. Commission of the European Union, IMF, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), United Nations Statistics Division, and the World Bank.
Starkhouse B. 2009. What’s the Catch: Uncovering the Catch Volume and Value of Fiji’s Coral Reef-Based Artisanal and Subsistence Fisheries. Master’s thesis, University of British Columbia. Vancouver.
Thaman R. 1990. Evolution of Food Systems. In: Jansen A., S. Parkinson and A. Robertson. Food and Nutrition in Fiji. University of the South Pacific. Suva, Fiji.
UNDP. 2012. Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network. Equator Initiative, Environment and Energy Group, United Nations Development Programme, New York.
WCPFC. 2016. Report of the 12th Regular Session of the Scientific Committee. Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, Pohnpei.

Additional information

Meetings & News archive


Powered by FIGIS