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⇧Part I Statistics and main indicators
This section provides statistics and indicators produced through FAO’s Statistics programmes, available by the year reported for the narrative section.
General geographic and economic indicators
Table 1 – General geographic and economic data – Solomon Islands
(1) 2006 average exchange rate: USD 1 = Solomon $ 7.65; GDP source: Statistical Office (2008). Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by Economic Activity – Current and Constant Price Values. Ministry of Finance, Honiara
(2) This is the contribution to GDP of agriculture, forestry and fisheries; Source: Statistical Office (2008).
(3) Fishing contribution to GDP; From Gillett (2009). The Contribution of Fisheries to the Economies of Pacific Island Countries and Territories. Pacific Studies Series, Asian Development Bank, Manila.
FAO Fisheries statistics
Table 2a – Fisheries data (i) - Solomon Islands
Table 2b – Fisheries data (ii) - Solomon Islands
(4) Data from FAO food balance sheet of fish and fishery products.
(5) This is the pet food production of the tuna cannery in 2007, as given in MFMR (2008). Statistics and Information. Special Edition for 30th Independence Anniversary.
(6) This figure is for “formal jobs” in the fishing and fish processing sub-sectors; From IMF (2005). Solomon Islands: Selected Issues and Statistical Appendix. IMF Country Report No. 05/364, International Monetary Fund.
(7) From Gillett (2009); includes the six fishery production categories: (1) coastal commercial fishing, (2) coastal subsistence fishing, (3) locally-based offshore fishing, (4) foreign-based offshore fishing, (5) freshwater fishing, and (6) aquaculture.
Updated 2009⇧Part II Narrative
This section provides supplementary information based on national and other sources and valid at the time of compilation. References to these sources are provided as far as possible.
Production sectorThe fisheries situation of the country is characterized by the large importance of both subsistence fisheries and offshore industrial fisheries. Because 90 percent of the Solomon Islands population is living in remote rural areas, subsistence fishing activities are of great importance for nutrition. The offshore fisheries are responsible for a large percentage of formal jobs in the country, while both processed and raw tuna are major export commodities. The license fee for foreign vessels to fish in the Solomon Islands’ EEZ is a substantial source of revenue for the government.
The country’s fisheries can be placed into six categories. These categories and the associated production in 2007 are estimated as:
Table 3 – Fisheries production by category – Solomon Islands
No discussion of the fisheries sector in the Solomon Islands would be complete without some mention of the rise and fall of the Solomon Taiyo fishing company. The box below gives a summary of that company. The Japanese partner pulled out in 2000, during a period known as the “ethnic tensions”, and shortly thereafter the company restructured itself as Soltai Fishing and Processing Ltd. It has struggled to survive to the present.
Box 1 - Solomon Taiyo Fishing Company – Solomon Islands
The main trends and important issues in the fisheries sector
The main trends in the sector include:
(8)This is the catch taken by the foreign fleet within the Solomon Islands EEZ. In FAO statistics of capture fisheries production, this catch is accounted under the catch of the nation(s) under which the vessel(s) is (are) flagged.
(9) Pearls and coral are commonly measured in pieces, rather than Kg.
(10) The production of the most important aquaculture products, post-larvae and corals, are measured in pieces (individual pearls) rather than in weight.Marine sub-sectorThe marine fisheries have two very distinct components, offshore and coastal:
Estimates of catches of the coastal fisheries vary widely. The Asian Development Bank recently examined a large number of Solomon Islands fisheries studies on coastal commercial fishing, selectively used the information, and made catch estimates:
Estimates of coastal subsistence fisheries production involve much guesswork. Many of the estimates used at present are derived from dietary surveys in the 1980s. If those early estimates are extrapolated on the basis of population and constant per capita fish consumption, the result is a coastal subsistence production of about 15 000 tonnes in 2007.
(11) FFA (2008) and SPC (unpublished information), for the Forum Fisheries Agency and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, respectively.Landing sitesLanding sites for the offshore fishery are diverse. All landings by the local pole-and-line vessel are made at the cannery at Noro in the Western Province. The local purse seine vessels mostly offload at Noro, either for processing at the local tuna cannery or for transshipment to overseas canneries. Foreign purse seine vessels either transship out of Honiara (during the period 2004-2006, 279 such transshipments occurred), or deliver to a foreign port. When locally-based longliners operate, the catches are unloaded in Honiara for overseas air freighting.
Landings from the coastal commercial fishery are made mostly at population centers. The small-scale commercial fisheries are mainly located near the main urban area of Honiara, and to a much lesser extent, around the towns of Auki on Malaita Island and Gizo in the west.
Subsistence fishery landings occur at villages throughout the coastal areas of the country, roughly in proportion to the distribution of the population. Fishing practices/systemsThe composition of local offshore fleet has changed considerably in recent years. The number of pole-line vessels is dropping due to the deterioration of an ageing fleet. The number of longliners is dropping in response to difficult business conditions in the country and sashimi market conditions. The number of purse seine vessels is increasing due to good catches and good conditions in the canned tuna market. The Yearbook of Western and Central Pacific Fishery Commission showed the number of domestic offshore fleet as:
Table 4 – Number of domestic offshore fleet – Solomon Islands
A study by the Forum Fisheries Agency12 racked the recent evolution of the offshore fleets:
The coastal commercial fisheries produce finfish and invertebrates to supply the urban markets and for export. The vessels fish in lagoons, on reefs, and in coastal pelagic areas by hand lining, trolling, spearing (spear guns; weighted spears), netting, and hand collection. Mainly small outboard-powered vessels are used, but some commercial fishing (i.e. beche-de-mer) takes place from non-powered canoes, or does not use a vessel (i.e. spear fishing or trochus collection from shore). There is sporadic fishing for live reef fish employing hook/line, holding tanks, and large transport vessels with live wells. Fishing for live bait for pole-and-line tuna fishing occurs in lagoons using underwater lights and a large liftnet, with the baitfish maintained alive in bait wells.
Commercial fishing for finfish, due to their perishable nature, is largely confined to urban areas and locations with direct transport links to urban areas. Many export products (e.g. beche-de-mer, trochus) are non-perishable and the fisheries they support are found in most areas of the Solomon Islands. In an attempt to overcome the transportation limitations on coastal commercial fishing, fisheries centers were established in a number of rural areas in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but for various reasons many have not survived to the present.
In the Solomon Islands there is a large variety of subsistence fishing techniques. Fishing is largely from non-powered canoes or from the shore by swimming. The main types of fishing are hook/line, hand collection, various types of traditional netting, and spearing by both wading and diving. Typical characteristics of subsistence fisheries are: specialized knowledge often passed down through generations, labour intensive operations sometimes involving the entire community, sharing of the catch amongst the community, social restrictions/prohibitions, and specialization of activity by gender. The traditional fishing lore of the country (i.e. knowledge and practices) is extremely diverse and varies considerably between islands and ethnic groups.
(12) Gillett, R. (2008). A Study of Tuna Industry Development Aspirations of FFA Member Countries. Forum Fisheries Agency, Honiara, 70 pagesMain resourcesIn 2007 catch taken from the EEZ waters of the Solomon Islands was about 121 600 tonnes. The catch composition was about 24 percent yellowfin, 62 percent skipjack, 4 percent bigeye, 4 percent albacore, and 6 percent of other species. Groups that are common in the purse seine catch other than tunas are sharks, billfish, rainbow runner, and triggerfish. Groups that are common in the longline catch other than tunas are sharks, billfish, opah, wahoo, and dolphinfish.
The coastal fisheries catch a large variety of finfish and invertebrate species. A study by the Forum Fisheries Agency13 showed that approximately 180 species of reef finfish from 30 families are caught from shallow-water by the domestic fishery. Catches are dominated by the families Lutjanidae (snappers), Serranidae (groupers and rock cods), Lethrinidae (emperors), Scombridae (mackerels) and Carangidae (trevallies). Important commercial invertebrate species are beche-de-mer, trochus, green snail, and giant clams, crabs and lobsters. The subsistence fisheries take a much larger diversity of marine animals and plants, with the most important groups being finfish and mollusks.
(13) Richards, A., L. Bell, and J. Bell (1994). Inshore Fisheries Resources of Solomon Islands. Report 94/01, Forum Fisheries Agency, Honiara. Management applied to main fisheriesThe Solomon Islands is a member of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission that was established by the Convention for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. The Convention entered into force in June 2004.
The management of marine fisheries in the Solomon Islands can be placed in three categories: the offshore fisheries, commercial export fisheries, and subsistence fisheries. The offshore/export fisheries are actively managed by the government through the Fisheries Department, whereas subsistence fishing in traditional management areas is mainly undertaken by village-level authorities.
Formal management plans only exist for three fisheries. These are the offshore fisheries, live reef food fishery, and the beche-de-mer fishery.
Management ObjectivesThe Fisheries Act 1998 states that the objective of fisheries management and development in Solomon Islands shall be to ensure the long-term conservation and the sustainable utilisation of the fishery resources of Solomon Islands for the benefit of the people of Solomon Islands.
The management objectives for the offshore fisheries are covered in the “Solomon Islands National Tuna Management and Development Plan” which came into force in June 1999. The plan (three volumes and 196 pages) gives the following objectives:
Management measures and institutional arrangements
The current tuna management plan specifies that the management measures for the industrial fishery consist of a limit on the number of licences and restrictions on access by certain vessels to some areas. In the decade that the plan was in force, problems were experienced with implementing these measures, especially those related to restricting licences during the period of ethnic tensions. The licensing procedures have since been tightened, and further strengthening is anticipated in a new tuna management plan presently being formulated.
The institutional arrangements for tuna fishery management, as prescribed by the current tuna management plan are:
Minister Responsible for Fisheries
Most of the areas where coastal subsistence fishing is undertaken are covered by traditional management arrangements. A recent study found that nearly 85 percent of the inshore marine areas in the Solomon Islands are customarily owned and managed by local villages, tribal groupings and communities. There is a wide diversity of fishery management provisions between areas, but most involve traditional authorities, often a hereditary chief, making management decisions after considering the views of their resident stakeholders. The measures often involve limiting access by outsiders to the fishing areas and various types of input restrictions on the fishing activities of local residents. Common restrictions include periodic harvesting bans in specific areas and bans on gear types. In recent years some of the areas have an external management partner, such as the local branch of an international NGO.
Solomon Islands is a member of the South Pacific Commission (SPC), the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) the South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Solomon Islands is also party to a number of treaties and arrangements relating to the management of regional fisheries, including:
Many of the people that work on the industrial fishing vessels live in Noro close to the cannery where those vessels are based. Other fishers are widely dispersed and do not live in distinct communities.Inland sub-sectorThe many large islands in the country result in a relatively large inland population with no direct access to marine food resources. This results in the Solomon Islands having a significant subsistence freshwater fishery, albeit much smaller than the marine fishery. Although there is no official report, recent studies have estimated an annual inland fishery production to be about 2 000 tonnes per year, valued at about 1.5 million USD. Although some of the catch may be sold, the vast majority is for subsistence purposes.
The main fishing and landing areas are small streams near villages and the banks of the larger rivers, mainly on the larger islands. The smaller islands and atolls generally have no sizeable freshwater bodies and consequently no freshwater fishing activity.
All inland fishing is carried out with very small-scale gear. This consists of baited lines, spears, variety of traditional woven traps, hollow poles, snares and knives.
Information is scarce on the resources that support the inland fisheries – no comprehensive survey has been carried out. Anecdotal information and survey reports focussed on single islands suggest that flagtails, gobies, eels, and freshwater shrimps are important native species. Tilapia, an introduced species, appears to be important, especially in small ponds and lakes.
The management applied to inland fisheries in the Solomon Islands is poorly documented. In general, it could be considered similar to that for the coastal subsistence fisheries – in which management is oriented to protecting village food supplies. Decisions are characteristically taken by traditional authorities and involve exclusion of outsiders and various types of bans on community members. Aquaculture sub-sectorThe current aquaculture activities in the Solomon Islands are limited and based on three types of products:
A New Zealand-sponsored project recently summarized the aquaculture situation in the Solomon Islands14:
There has been a wide range of species cultured within the Solomon Islands, including giant clams, penaeid shrimps, freshwater prawns, pearl oysters, sea weed, sea cucumbers, hard and soft corals, milkfish, sponges and the capture/culture of postlarval animals. To date, the aquaculture industry has had limited contribution to the livelihoods of the rural sector. Since the political unrest within the nation the commercial aquaculture operations have been closed with little private sector interest in restarting operations. Coral culture (hard and soft) has provided small-scale sustained economic benefits through the successful development of community based farms that service the private sector aquarium companies. Similarly seaweed, although still in its development stage, has provided positive indications that the industry may become viable in the long term.
The most significant attempt to promote aquaculture in the Solomon Islands was the Coastal Aquaculture Centre, which was a joint project between the Government of the Solomon Islands and the International Centre for Living Aquatic Resource Management (ICLARM; now the WorldFish Center) and promoted mainly the culture of juvenile giant clams for the live aquarium trade. The clams were grown out by small-scale farmers who then sold their production to exporters. In the late 1990s efforts were made to explore giant clam sashimi markets in Taiwan and Hong Kong. The Centre also initiated a black-lipped pearl oyster collection programme with a view to investigating pearl culture, experimental culture of beche-de-mer, and a project to investigate green snail and trochus resources, the latter with Japanese assistance. The Centre ceased operation in early 2000 due to violence associated with the ethnic tension.
The latest attempt to quantify the volume and value of aquaculture production in the country was undertaken by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Using a variety of source documents, ADB determined:
Table 5 - Recent annual volumes and values of aquaculture – Solomon Islands
Most of the current aquaculture production is supported by donors with an interest in rural development. Accordingly, many of the aquaculture operations are located in rural areas. As an example, the Coral Gardens program of the Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific International aims to alleviate poverty and reverse ecological damage by mariculture initiatives such as coral culture in Marau Sound, the Nggela Islands and Langalanga Lagoon in Malaita.
Other than efforts to promote its development, there is no active management of the aquaculture sub-sector in the Solomon Islands.
(14) Source: Lindsay, S. (2007). Aquaculture Sector Assessment, Solomon Islands. Lincoln International Pty Ltd., Marine Resource Organizational Strengthening Project Solomon IslandsRecreational sub-sectorAlthough subsistence fishing may have a large social component and be enjoyed by the participants, there is little recreational fishing as a leisure activity for local residents. Several of the resorts offer fishing activity to their overseas guests and some local expatriates in Honiara occasionally carry out some fishing on the weekends. This mainly involves trolling for coastal pelagic fish, such as Spanish mackerel, barracuda, and tunas.
There is no active management of the recreational sub-sector.
Post-harvest sectorFish utilizationIn general offshore fishing is export oriented. The local purse seiners supply the cannery in the Solomon Islands, but most of the catch is exported unprocessed to overseas canneries. Catches taken by foreign-based purse seining is exported to overseas canneries. Longlining (presently all foreign-based) is oriented to producing sashimi for Asia and North America.
Coastal commercial fishing produces mainly fresh products (finfish, invertebrates) for urban consumption and non-perishable products (beche-de-mer, trochus) for export. Some perishable fishery products (e.g. lobster tails) are sporadically exported, while aquarium items are exported much more regularly.
The subsistence fisheries (both coastal and inland), as the name implies are focused on production of food for household consumption. 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). In some communities, production in excess of immediate needs is salted or dried for future use. Fish marketsFish canned in the Solomon Islands is exported to Japan, Europe and regional markets (e.g. Fiji). Currently, the Solomon Islands has duty-free access for its canned tuna into the EU market. The non-processed tuna that is exported has as its final market (after processing in mainly Southeast Asia or American Samoa) mostly the United States and Europe, with small amounts going to a large number of countries.
The main domestic market for fish is in Honiara, but other markets exist in the towns of Gizo, Buala, Tulagi, Auki, Kirakira, and Lata.
Beche-de-mer is exported to China, with smaller amounts going to Southeast Asian countries. The markets for trochus shell are the processing plants in Europe and Asia, with the processed buttons going to fashion clothes for consumers in Europe, North American and Japan. Lobster tails are primarily for Australia and the aquarium products for North America.
Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sectorRole of fisheries in the national economyA recent study by the Asian Development Bank attempted to quantify the fishery-related benefits received by Solomon Islands. The study gave the available information on the contribution of fishing/fisheries to GDP, exports, government revenue, and employment. The results can be summarized as:
From the above it can be seen that fisheries make a relatively important contribution to GDP, exports, government revenue, and employment. Supply and demand
The government has several strategies to increase the national fish supply. These involve supporting the marketing of fishery products in Honiara from remote parts of the country and promoting the use of offshore tuna resources by encouraging (a) small-scale fishers, and (b) increase domestic utilization of industrial tuna catches.
Major factors affecting the local supply of fish are over-fishing, siltation, destructive fishing, transport links to the outer islands, and the offloading of fish by the offshore fleet.
The per capita consumption of fish in the Solomon Islands, based on the 2007 FAO Food Balance Sheet, is 33.6 kg. Various other studies have made estimates ranging between 27.5 and 40.0 kg. Considering the Solomon Islands’ population, 35 kg of fish consumption per capita translates into a 2010 demand for 18,750 tonnes of fish.
Factors influencing the future demand for fish are a rising population, increases in price of fish (over-exploitation of inshore areas, gradual devaluation of the local currency, fuel cost increases), and relative cost of fish substitutes. TradeExports of fishery products in 2007 were S$168.6million (USD 22 million) and represented about 13 percent of all exports of the Solomon Islands. The vast majority of the exports were tuna products. The major non-tuna commodities were beche-de-mer, trochus, items for the aquarium trade, seaweed, and shark fins. Food securityFish is an important element of food security in the Solomon Islands. The FAO Food Balance Sheets show that in 2007 fish contributed an average of 22 percent of all protein to the diet and 76 percent of animal protein. In rural areas of the country the contributions are even higher.
Animal protein substitutes for fish consist mainly of various types of livestock and imported canned meat. Food imports are now relatively expensive in the local currency due to deterioration of the economy during the previous decade. EmploymentThe most recent estimate of the formal employment in the Solomon Islands, including the fisheries component, was carried out by the International Monetary Fund in 200515
Table 6 - Formal employment in the Solomon Islands
An important component of fisheries employment in the Solomon Islands are those jobs related to offshore fishing. A study by the Forum Fisheries Agency16 tracked the number of Solomon Island citizens employed in the country’s offshore fishing industry (both onboard and in processing plants) over a seven-year period:
Table 7 - Locals employed in the Solomon Islands tuna industry
(15) IMF (2005). Solomon Islands: Selected Issues and Statistical Appendix. IMF Country Report No. 05/364, International Monetary Fund
(16) Gillett, R. (2008). A Study of Tuna Industry Development Aspirations of FFA Member Countries. Forum Fisheries Agency, Honiara, 70 pages.Rural developmentAn assessment by UNDP17 earlier in the decade indicated that most future employment opportunities lie in the informal rural sector. Fisheries development in rural areas has a major role in providing such employment.
One of the major mechanisms for rural fisheries development has been the fisheries centres. About 25 of these facilities were established in rural areas and were intended to serve as market outlets for fish caught by rural fishermen. It was planned that the centers would sell fishing gear and provide training in new fishing techniques and improved catch handling. Although they were plagued with problem (especially during the ethnic tension), about two-thirds of the centers continue to function – and are vital in the government’s attempts to develop rural fishery resources.
(17) UNDP (2002). Solomon Islands Human Development Report. United Nations Development Programme.
Trends, issues and developmentConstraints and opportunitiesSome of the major constraints of the fisheries sector are:
The opportunities in the fisheries sector include:
(18) Skewes, T. (1990). Marine Resource Profiles: The Solomon Islands. Report 90/61. Forum Fisheries Agency, Honiara.Education and trainingEducation / training related to fisheries in the Solomon Islands is undertaken in a variety of institutions:
Foreign aidImportant donors in the fisheries sector (and major initiatives) are the European Union (rural fisheries enterprises, seaweed culture, wharf at Noro), Overseas Fishery Cooperation Foundation (renovation of fisheries centers, a loan for cannery construction), Japan International Cooperation Agency (fisheries wharf, cold storage and social facilities), and the Nature Conservancy (fisheries centre, live reef fish management plan).
A recent study19 summarizes the activities of the main donors active in the fisheries sector:
(19) Barclay, K. (2008). Fisheries and Aquaculture. In: Solomon Islands Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS). Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade
Institutional frameworkUnder the Fisheries Act 1998 the administration of fisheries is under the Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR). Until 2006, the government fisheries authority was a department under the Ministry of Natural Resources. In 2006, the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources was created. The MFMR has five divisions. These are Research, Aquaculture, Licensing and Enforcement, Extension, and Statistics plus an administration unit. The latest annual report of the MFMR states that there are 65 established posts (of which 26 were vacant) and four non-established posts.
The MFMR is now being strengthened by the New Zealand-funded Solomon Islands Marine Resources Organizational Strengthening Program in its transition from the current organizational arrangements to new arrangements. The MFMR Corporate plan 2008 – 2011 states that the Programme will assist in several areas, including (a) agreeing on the new direction of the Ministry (reflected in strategic plan), (b) agreeing on and implementing an appropriate organizational structure able to provide strategic direction, (c) securing budget and other resources, and (d) building sound institutional capacity within the MFMR (financial, administration, IT, technical, policy). In general, the MFMR has elected to shift its focus away from attempting to be a full service provider to a role that enables it to more productively use the skills and resources available to it.
With respect to fishery stakeholder institutions, there is no grouping that represents the interests of small-scale fishers in the country. For the offshore fisheries, the two individuals that head the tuna processing company and the tuna fishing company often meet informally to discuss issues of mutual interest. Although the Fisheries Act 1998 established a “Fisheries Advisory Council” consisting of stakeholders, that group has not met in several years.
Some of the important internet links related to fisheries institutions in the Solomon Islands are:
Legal frameworkThe legal framework for fisheries development and management in the Solomon Islands was established by the Fisheries Act 1998. Major features of the Act are:
Other fisheries-relevant legislation includes:
Barclay, K. 2008. Fisheries and Aquaculture. In: Solomon Islands Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS). Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade.
CBSI. 2008. Annual Report 2007. Central Bank of the Solomon Islands.
Gillett. 2009. The Contribution of Fisheries to the Economies of Pacific Island Countries and Territories. Manila, Asian Development Bank. Pacific Studies Series.
Gillett, R. 2008. A Study of Tuna Industry Development Aspirations of FFA Member Countries. Honiara, Forum Fisheries Agency. 70 pp.
IMF. 2005. Solomon Islands: Selected Issues and Statistical Appendix. International Monetary Fund. IMF Country Report No. 05/364.
Lindsay, S. 2007. Aquaculture Sector Assessment, Solomon Islands. Lincoln International Pty Ltd., Marine Resource Organizational Strengthening Project Solomon Islands.
Richards, A., L. Bell, and J. Bell. 1994. Inshore Fisheries Resources of Solomon Islands. Honiara, Forum Fisheries Agency. Report 94/01.
Skewes, T. 1990. Marine Resource Profiles: The Solomon Islands. Honiara, Forum Fisheries Agency. Report 90/61.
UNDP. 2002. Solomon Islands Human Development Report. United Nations Development Programme.
WCPFC. 2009. WCPFC Yearbook 2009.
FAO Thematic data bases
FAO Fisheries statistics