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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 – Samoa
(1) 2007 average exchange rate: US$1 – ST$2.62; GDP source: Samoa Source: Bureau of Statistics, unpublished data; GDP at current market price.
(2) The contribution to GDP of agriculture and forestry; In the official statistics, “agriculture” does not include fisheries.
(3) Official 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
Table2a – Fisheries data (i) - Samoa
Table2b – Fisheries data (ii) - Samoa
(4) Data from FAO food balance sheet of fish and fishery products (in live weight)
(5) Modified to reflect actual supply
(6) From Mulipola, A. 2003. Fisher Creel Census 2003 Report. Fisheries Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Apia, Samoa. Figure includes subsistence and small-scale commercial fishers.
(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.
(8) Gillett (2009)
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 sectorFish and fishing is important to Samoa, both economically and socially. In 2007 over half of all exports of the country consisted of fishery products. About a quarter of all households receive some income from fishing. Fish (fresh, frozen and canned) are an important feature of the Samoan diet, and on average households consume fish most days of the week.
The country’s fisheries can be placed into six categories. These categories and the associated production in 2007 are:
Table 3 – Fisheries production by category – Samoa (2007)
No discussion of the fisheries sector in Samoa would be complete without a discussion of the “alia” catamaran fishing craft. Originally designed and built by an FAO project in Samoa in the mid-1970s, much of the recent history of fishing in the country involves the alia. The box describes the large change in the alia fleet in the past decade.
Box1 - The Rise and fall of the Samoan alia fishery - Samoa
Main trends and important issues in the fisheries sector
The main trends in the fisheries sector include:
(9) This is the catch in the Samoa zone by vessels based outside the country.
(10) Hamilton, A. 2007. The Samoa Alia Fishery. Development of Tuna Fisheries in the Pacific ACP Countries (DEVFISH) Project, Forum Fisheries Agency, Honiara. Marine sub-sectorThe marine fisheries have two very distinct components, offshore and coastal:
Table 4 - Catches by the Samoa-based offshore fleet
Estimates of the coastal marine catch are more open to speculation. Two recent surveys (one of creel fisheries; one from a household income and expenditure survey) indicate that about 4 500 tonnes is taken annually by the coastal commercial fisheries and an amount slightly less by the coastal subsistence fisheries. Landing sitesMost locally-based offshore vessels unload their catch in Apia, the capital and largest urban area. Some of the smaller alia longliners (when they are operating) offload catch at a few of the smaller landing sites, especially at the east and west ends of the island of Savaii.
Subsistence and coastal commercial fishery landings occur at villages throughout the coastal areas of the country, roughly in proportion to the distribution of the population. Much of the coastal commercial catch is transported by road for sale in urban areas. Some is sold along the roads.Fishing practices/systemsVirtually all offshore production is by longlining – either by alia catamarans or, in recent years mostly larger mono-hull vessels. The number of vessels operating in recent years and the number of hooks set is given in the table:
Table 5 – Number of vessels and number of hooks set – Samoa
The bulk of Samoa’s tuna catch being taken by 14 large longliners of 12.5 – 20.5 metres or more in length. A number of steps have been taken by the Samoan Government to try to preserve and revitalize the Alia catamaran fleet (mostly vessels less that 11 metres) through fishery management, fiscal measures and development assistance (Hamilton 2007).
Most of the alia craft go on short trips of one to two days in duration. The larger mono-hull vessels stay out much longer, with trip limitation being set by the ability to carry ice – often about two weeks.
Coastal fishing (both subsistence and commercial) employs a wide variety of production means. Fishing is undertaken by villagers operating in shallow lagoon waters adjacent to their lands. Fishing is for both subsistence and commercial purposes, with a significant overlap between the two. Fishing occurs from canoes or other small vessels, or on foot, and may involve the use of spears, nets, or hook and line, or, in the case of sessile invertebrates, simple hand-gleaning. Spearfishing is especially common, with most divers using mask/fins/snorkel and a sling-type spear. Night spearing is also common in some villages, using underwater torches. Trolling, using open motorized craft outside the reef is common, but the viability is affected by fuel costs and the presence/absence of anchored fish aggregating devices. Main resourcesThe main target species captured in the offshore fishery are albacore (about 80 percent of the total catch), yellowfin (8 percent), and bigeye (3 percent). The other species taken include (in descending order) wahoo, dolphinfish, skipjack, striped marlin, blue marlin, and various species of oceanic sharks.
An FAO study11 carried out in Samoa in the 1990s reported that subsistence fisheries make use of 500 species. The most important resources for Samoa’s small-scale fisheries are: finfish (especially surgeonfish, grouper, mullet, carangids, rabbit fish), octopus, giant clams, beche de mer, turbo, and crab. A study in 2006 identified the major species caught by spearfishing:
Table 6 - Common species in the spearfishing catch* - Samoa
(11) Zann, L., 1992. The Inshore Resources of Upolu, Western Samoa. Field Report number 2, FAO/UNDP Project SAM/89/002, Apia, Western Samoa.Management applied to main fisheriesSamoa 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.
Management objectivesThe objectives of fisheries management in Samoa appear in the legislation only in very broad terms. The Fisheries Act states that the Director of the Department of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries may “propose management and development measures designed to obtain the maximum benefits from the fishery resources for the people of Samoa, both present and future”.
Fisheries management objectives must therefore be obtained or inferred from other sources. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Corporate Plan (2005-2007) has the goal of “Growing a Healthy and Wealthy Samoa”. The broad objectives of management interventions in the fisheries sector are suggested in the mission statement of the Fisheries Division: “Promoting the optimum and ecologically sustainable use of the country’s fishery resources and the development of suitable alternatives to harvesting depleted resources in order to maximize benefits to Samoa”.
For the offshore fishery, the Samoa Tuna Management and Development Plan 2005-2009 gives two major overall management goals: (1) To ensure the sustainability of harvesting of tuna resources throughout their range, and (2) To maximize the long-term economic and social benefits accruing to the people of Samoa from the utilization of its tuna resources. The Plan establishes the specific objectives of:
(12) King, M. and U.Fa’asili (1998). Community-Based Management of Subsistence Fisheries in Samoa. Fisheries Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries and Meteorology, Apia, Samoa.
Management measures and institutional arrangementsThe management measures and institutional arrangements for the offshore fisheries are detailed in the Samoa Tuna Management and Development Plan 2005-2009. The main measure used to achieve the stated objectives in the plan is licence limitation. Restrictions are currently placed on longline vessel licence numbers by size class, as follows:
Table 7 – Restrictions on longline vessel licence numbers - Samoa
Licence limitation is applied by the Fisheries Division and enforced by several government departments.
A large number of management measures are formulated and applied at the village level. A report on the status of village fishery management13 gives the management tools in use at the village level. Figures in the right-hand column indicate the percentage of all villages using the particular action or regulation.
Table 8 – Management tools: Action/regulation - Samoa
(13) King, M. and U.Fa’asili (1998). Community-Based Management of Subsistence Fisheries in Samoa. Fisheries Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries and Meteorology, Apia, Samoa.
Fishing communitiesThe concept of “fishermen communities” is not very relevant to Samoa. 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, the Apia urban area. Nearly all households in coastal villages are involved in coastal fishing activities – mainly subsistence but often selling the surplus. Inland sub-sectorCompared to the marine fisheries of Samoa, the production from inland fisheries is quite small.
According to officials of the Fisheries Division, the total annual inland harvest is unknown, but likely to be about 10 mt per year. The main freshwater fishery species are tilapia (there are occasionally roadside sales near lakes), eels, and freshwater shrimps.
Where inland fishing is managed, it is done so on a village-level. It is likely that the management is oriented to protecting the flow of food from the resource to the village. Aquaculture sub-sectorA review of aquaculture in Samoa14 states that the culturing of aquatic animals was not a traditional practice in Samoa. However, a traditional form of giant clam ranching was practiced on village reefs or in lagoon where a community placed giant clams in a fenced off area for special occasion or reserves for seafood supply in bad weather. The idea of initiating aquaculture in Samoa dates to 1954 when the Secretariat of the Pacific Community investigated the possibility of establishing fish ponds near Apia. However, significant aquaculture activities did not occur until the 1980s when several trials pertaining to farming tilapia, freshwater and marine prawns, oyster, eucheuma seaweed, green mussels and giant clams were investigated. Aquaculture activities have been initiated in Samoa to:
The total annual harvest of cultured tilapia (which is largely the entire aquaculture production) is unknown, but likely to be about 10 mt per year. This equated to less than 1/10 of one percent of the fisheries production of Samoa.
Little information is available on any management of aquaculture activities in Samoa. Management is likely to be limited to measures to prevent poaching prior to a scheduled harvesting.
(14) Mulipola, A. (1998). Samoa Aquaculture, Profile. Fisheries Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries and Meteorology, Apia.
(15) Rimmer, M., L.Bel, M.Lober, and A.Trevor (2001). Evaluation of the Potential for Aquaculture in Samoa. Samoa Fisheries Project, Fisheries Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries & Meteorology.Recreational sub-sectorAlthough subsistence fishing may have a large social component and be enjoyed by the participants, there is little recreational fishing in the village as a leisure activity. In Apia there is some sports fishing (mainly offshore trolling) and occasionally there are sports fishing competitions. Some of the hotels offer fishing as an activity for their guests.
Post-harvest sectorThe catch from the offshore fisheries is mainly for the export market, about 75 percent of the total catch is sent abroad. 80 percent of these exports are frozen tuna destined for the tuna cannery in neighboring American Samoa. The remaining exports are mainly fresh chilled fish and mainly for markets in the United States. The catch from offshore fisheries that is not exported is sold locally, mostly in the Apia fish market.
Production from coastal commercial fishing is surveyed by the Fisheries Division. Most of the catch is sold at the Apia fish market, Fugalei agro-produce market, on the Apia-Faleolo roadside, and the Salelologa market. Whole finfish accounted for 64 percent of the total volume of fishery items traded. Invertebrates and processed items accounted for 24 percent and 11 percent, respectively of the total volume.
The catch from subsistence fisheries is consumed in the coastal villages near where it is caught, but some is shipped to friends and family in Apia.
The giving of fish for cultural purposes (faasoso) is important in Samoa. Most of this occurs domestically, but a significant amount faasoso fish is exported. Fisheries Division records show about 1.5 tonnes of pelagic fish and 10.0 tonnes of other fish was exported as faasoso in the 2007/08 financial year.
The small amount of inland and aquaculture production is mainly for subsistence purposes, but some roadside sales of tilapia occur.
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 Samoa in various categories. The study gave the available information (focused on 2007) on the contribution of fishing/fisheries to GDP, exports, government revenue, and employment. The results can be summarized as:
The government has several strategies to increase the national fish supply. The main mechanism is the promotion of village level management of traditional fishing areas to stabilize fisheries production. The government also encourages aquaculture and offshore fishing.
The per capita consumption of fish in Samoa, based on the 2005 FAO food balance sheet, is 50.5 kg. Various other studies have made estimates ranging between 46.3 and 73 kg. Considering Samoa’s population, 50.5 kg of fish consumption per capita translates into a 2010 demand for 9 086 tonnes of fish.
Factors influencing the future demand for fish are a rising population, an increase in the price of fish, relative cost of fish substitutes, and the level overseas cash remittances. TradeThe Samoa Bureau of Statistics tracks the country’s exports, including the export of fishery products:
Table 9 - Fish and total exports of Samoa
According to Fisheries Division staff, since 1997 export bans on several types of fishery products (coral, aquarium fish, and beche de mer) have resulted in almost all commercial fishery exports in recent years being tuna products.Food securityFish, both local and imported, is an important element of food security in Samoa. A survey in 2006/07 showed that the average frequency of consumption of fresh finfish was 2.8 times per week, and that for invertebrates was 0.8 times per week. The average frequency of consumption of imported canned fish was 4.5 times per week. In 2002 the Samoa Household Income and Expenditure Survey revealed that 9.3 percent of weekly household expenditure is for fish.
The food supply in Samoa suffers from frequent cyclones. After especially severe cyclones, fish (both imported and local) is critically important. This is because the local fish supply is less affected by cyclones than agriculture supplies, and because imported canned fish is an important component of post-cyclone relief efforts. EmploymentFisheries employment in Samoa has two distinct components: formal jobs in the offshore fisheries and less formal participation in the coastal fisheries. An Asia Development Bank study16 estimated that in 2008, 295 jobs were associated with offshore fishing (on vessels and in shore facilities). This represents about 1.3 percent of the formal employment in the country.As for employment in small-scale fishing, a survey17 conducted in 2007 to assess the socio-economic status of rural villages, found that 41.7 percent of households have at least one fisher.
(16) Gillett (2009)
(17) Mulipola, A., A. Taua, O.Tuaopepe, and S.Valencia (2007). Samoa Fisheries Socio-Economic Report 2006-2007. Fisheries Division Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Apia, Samoa.Rural developmentRural development is a major thrust of the government’s efforts in the fisheries sector. A major component of the work program of Fisheries Division is to enhance the capabilities of villages to manage their coastal fisheries resources, as an integrated part of village development. In addition, the
Fisheries Division has major involvement in rural extension activities, and in supporting rural port facilities to the village level.
Unlike many other countries, all villages in Samoa are within an easy commute of the largest urban area – so halting the rural-urban drift is not a major government policy objective. In addition, the major issue in population movement is not a migration to the urban area, but rather a migration to overseas countries, especially New Zealand.
Trends, issues and developmentConstraints and opportunitiesSome of the major constraints of the fisheries sector in Samoa are:
Government and non-government sector policies and development strategiesThe fisheries policies of Samoa can be inferred from a variety of documents. The general policy thrust is given by the mission statement of the Fisheries Division:
“Promotes the optimum and ecologically sustainable use of the country’s fishery resources and the development of suitable alternatives to harvesting depleted resources in order to maximize benefits to Samoa”.
The main government policy in the offshore fisheries is to work within the framework of the Commercial Fisheries Management Advisory Committee to address issues affecting the management and further development of the offshore fisheries in Samoa.
For the coastal fisheries, the main policy is the empowerment of villages to actively engage in the management and development of their coastal fishing areas. This is done primarily through establishment, reviewing, and strengthening of village fisheries management plans, fish reserves and creation of by-laws.
The private sector’s policies are not formalized. Judging from the attitudes and recent action of the companies engaged in offshore fishing, the main policy is not one of expanding but rather surviving during a period of poor albacore fishing – as has been the case for the last few years. Research, education and trainingResearchA large amount of fisheries research has been undertaken in Samoa over the years. Much of the older work is listed in the Samoa Fisheries Bibliography18 and the research carried out on the main fishery resources in Samoa is summarized in the Western Samoa Fisheries Resources Profiles19.
More recent research projects by the Fisheries Division are given in the annual reports. They include:
(18) Gillett, R. D. and D. Sua (1987). Western Samoa Fisheries Bibliography. Document 87/6, FAO/UNDP Regional Fishery Support Programme, Suva, 90 pages.
(19) Bell, L.. (1995) Western Samoa Fisheries Resources Profiles. Report 95/18, Forum Fisheries Agency, Honiara. Education and trainingEducation related to fisheries in Samoa is undertaken in a variety of institutions:
Bilateral programmes of technical cooperation, collaboration and assistance have been provided by the governments of Australia, China, Japan and the European Union. Multilateral donors include UNDP and FAO. Samoa also enjoys technical assistance or the channeling of multilateral donor assistance from various regional agencies including, FFA, SPC, and SOPAC20.
(20) Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission
Institutional frameworkResponsibility for fisheries and marine resource matters is vested in the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. The Division is headed by Assistant Chief Executive Officer. It is headquartered in Apia, and employs about 35 staff.
According to its latest annual report (2007/08), the substantive work of the Fisheries Division is organized into six services:
By their nature, stakeholders in the village fisheries are less formally organized. Individual village councils often consult with representatives of the Fisheries Division. Many villages have fishery management committees made up of the various local stakeholders in fisheries.
Some of the important internet links related to fisheries in Samoa are:
Legal frameworkThe main legislative instrument relating to fisheries in Samoa is the Fisheries Act of 1988 – prepared with assistance from FAO and the Forum Fisheries Agency. The Act has been amended several times, including in 1999 and 2002.
The Fisheries Act controls the operation of both domestic and foreign fishing vessels. The stated purposes of the Act include the conservation, management and development of marine resources, the promotion of marine scientific research and the protection and preservation of the marine environment. An important provision of the Act is that the Director responsible for fisheries "may, in consultation with fishermen, industry and village representatives, prepare and promulgate by-laws not inconsistent with this Act for the conservation and management of fisheries". Using this provision, many villages now have by-laws to assist in managing their fishing grounds. Samoa’s Constitution has important implications for fisheries. Under Article 104 of Constitution, all land lying below the line of high water is vested in the State and therefore legally all Samoans have equal access to coastal resources. In practical terms, the village by-laws apply equally to village residents and outsiders and no Samoans can be differentially excluded from fishery areas.
Other legislation relevant to fisheries includes the Territorial Sea Act of 1971, and the Exclusive Economic Zone Act of 1988.
Bell, L. 1995. Western Samoa Fisheries Resources Profiles. Report 95/18, Forum Fisheries Agency, Honiara.
Gillett, R. 2009. The Contribution of Fisheries to the Economies of Pacific Island Countries and Territories. Pacific Studies Series, Asian Development Bank, World Bank, Forum Fisheries Agency, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, and Australian Agency for International Development.
Gillett, R. and W. Moy. 2006. Spearfishing in the Pacific Islands: Current Status and Management Issues. FAO Fishcode Review No.19, ISSN: 1728-4392, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Gillett, R. D. and D. Sua. 1987. Western Samoa Fisheries Bibliography. Document 87/6, FAO/UNDP Regional Fishery Support Programme, Suva.
Hamilton, A. 2007. The Samoa Alia Fishery. Development of Tuna Fisheries in the Pacific ACP Countries (DEVFISH) Project, Forum Fisheries Agency, Honiara.
King, M., K. Passfield, and E. Ropeti. 2001. Village Fisheries Management Plan: Samoa’s community-based management strategy. Samoa Fisheries Project, Fisheries Division.
King, M. and U.Fa’asili. 1998. Community-Based Management of Subsistence Fisheries in Samoa. Fisheries Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries and Meteorology, Apia, Samoa.
Mulipola, A., A. Taua, O.Tuaopepe, and S.Valencia. 2007. Samoa Fisheries Socio-Economic Report 2006-2007. Fisheries Division Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Apia, Samoa.
Mulipola, A. 2003. Fisher Creel Census 2003 Report. Fisheries Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Apia, Samoa. Figure includes subsistence and small-scale commercial fishers.
Mulipola, A. 1998. Samoa Aquaculture, Profile. Fisheries Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries and Meteorology, Apia.
Rimmer, M., L.Bel, M.Lober, and A.Trevor (2001). Evaluation of the Potential for Aquaculture in Samoa. Samoa Fisheries Project, Fisheries Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries & Meteorology.
Zann, L., 1992. The Inshore Resources of Upolu, Western Samoa. Field Report number 2, FAO/UNDP Project SAM/89/002, Apia, Western Samoa.
FAO Thematic data bases
FAO Fisheries statistics