New programme to conserve coastal marine stocks


<p style="text-align: justify;">Scientists and managers from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Locally-Managed Marine Area (LMMA) Network have come together to develop a series of information sheets recommending measures to protect sea cucumbers, lobsters and other fish species that are in danger of disappearing from Pacific Island fisheries.<!--more--></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Several factors threaten marine species in the region. These include the growing Pacific population, which is predicted to increase by 50 per cent by 2030. Many reef ecosystems are already struggling from intense fishing pressure.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">According to SPC research, tropical Pacific reef fish populations could decline by up to 20 per cent by 2050 and up to 50 per cent by 2100. Climate change will affect fish population distribution and numbers as rising sea temperatures reduces the food available to reef fish and changes the timing and success of fish reproduction.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Pacific Islanders are also voracious fish eaters: average annual consumption of fish per person (including shellfish) by coastal Pacific populations ranges from 30–118 kilograms in Melanesia, 62–115 kilograms in Micronesia, and 50–146 kilograms in Polynesia. This is significantly more than the annual consumption globally of just 17 kilograms per person.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Actions recommended to be taken as detailed in the 16 information sheets launched this week include reducing or stopping the use of scuba to fish and marine wildlife among other measures.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The information sheets will be distributed to communities across the Pacific. Funding for the printing and distribution of the information sheets was provided by the European Union-funded SciCOFish (scientific support for the management of coastal and oceanic fisheries in the Pacific Islands region) project.</p>

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