24 Jun 2019

Pacific coastal fishery watchdog facing shutdown

6:58 pm on 24 June 2019

A group set up by Pacific countries to improve the management of their coastal fisheries may be disbanded.

The Coastal Fishery Working Group went to last week's meeting of the region's fisheries ministers in Pohnpei to raise concerns about the serious depletion of commercial coastal stocks.

The group is concerned that the depletion poses a threat to both the food supply and the ability of communities to earn incomes.

A key concern is the state of the sea cucumber fishery and the group, which is made up of academics, government officials and NGOs, was seeking a greater commitment from governments to manage the fishery.

Its concerns included fisheries officers being under resourced, the failure to properly implement bans on harvesting and political interference within the sector.

Dried Beche-de-mer at a market

Dried Beche-de-mer at a market Photo: RNZI

But the meeting spent little time discussing these worries and instead recommended the Coastal Fishery Working Group be disbanded.

Ministers claimed the group lacked accountability to member governments.