Inland Fisheries

Capacity Building and Institutional Strengthening in Development and Management of Inland Aquatic Resources. Phase I. Field Report No. PNG/93/007.

Overview of inland fisheries

Papua New Guinea (P.N.G.) is not a "small Pacific Island State'', but in fact has a land area greater than that of, for example, Germany. P.N.G. 's official population census confirms that most people in P.N.G. live inland and have no direct access to coastal/marine resources. The five landlocked highlands provinces alone account for 37% of the nations' population. Amongst the "coastal" or "islands" provinces, in most the majority of people also live inland. In total, 87% of the people of P.N.G. inhabit inland areas and their aquatic resources are in freshwater, not the sea. P.N.G. has two of the world's largest river systems (the Sepik & Fly) and a number of other substantial rivers. A number of freshwater habitats are worthy of listing as World Heritage Sites. The country has over 5,000 lakes. Literally vast areas of freshwater swamps occur in most lowland areas. Areas at higher altitudes, besides having numerous lakes, are riddled with rivers generally in excellent condition. It is hard to move far on land in P.N.G. without coming across impressive freshwater habitats - in fact they are generally a major obstacle to land travel in most regions. Where these freshwaters are accessed by sufficient people, almost without exception, they support important fisheries. Table 1 provides a brief summary of population distributions and major aquatic resources by province.