Sustaining Pacific Island Fisheries

Surrounded by 10 million square miles of ocean, Pacific Islanders rely on fish for their way of life.

© Marc Taquet
>45% of revenue

Six Pacific Islands (Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Tokelau, Tuvalu) derive at least 45 percent of all government revenue from tuna. Some 25,000 jobs in the region are also based on Pacific tuna fisheries.

2x–4x more fish consumption

Many Pacific Islanders consume two to four times more fish than people in other nations. Traditionally, most of this fish has come from coastal fisheries based mainly on species associated with coral reefs.

30% of global tuna market

1.5 million metric tons of tuna are caught in the waters of Pacific Island countries each year, supplying more than 30 percent of the global market for tuna.

The threats

Increased demand for fish in the Pacific Islands fuels overfishing, which in turn threatens local food security, livelihoods and ecosystems. Climate change is compounding the problem by lowering harvests from coral reef fisheries and changing the distribution of tuna, reducing vital benefits to island economies.

​​​​​​​​​​​​Our role

Conservation International is strengthening community-based management to conserve coastal fish habitats and maintain healthy fish stocks. We are also helping communities meet increasing demands for fish and adapt to climate change by supporting a shift from catching primarily coral reef species to catching tuna.

We are also helping the Pacific Community and other Pacific Island fisheries agencies to better understand the effects of climate change on tuna. This knowledge will help identify the adaptations needed to reduce the risks of tuna ​redistribution to national economies.

​​​​​​​​​​​​Our plan

Fishermen in Fiji
© Johan Bell

Strengthening community-based management of coastal fisheries

To help conserve fish habitats and populations for Pacific Islanders, Conservation International is implementing a people-centered fishery improvement model. Our approach harnesses the capacity of local communities and incorporates recommended governance reforms.

Diversifying the use of tuna to improve food security and livelihoods

Together with the Pacific Community (SPC) and national governments, Conservation International is helping coastal communities catch more tuna by expanding the use of nearshore fish-aggregating devices (FADs) anchored close to the coast.

Achieving sustainable fisheries

Conservation International is helping to sustain tuna fisheries by assisting SPC to identify the spatial structure of stocks, and develop better models for the responses of tuna to climate change.

Adding value to tuna

Conservation International and partners are collaborating with the private sector to assist Pacific Island countries to increase the value of tuna and to create more jobs based on tuna fisheries. This includes an exchange of knowledge between Pacific Island fisheries agencies and Iceland, a global leader in sustainable fisheries development.

Our tuna initiative

Economic benefits of tuna fishing for Pacific Island countries

Our Tuna Initiative was designed to assist national and regional fisheries agencies implement the sustainability, value, employment and food security goals outlined in the Regional Roadmap for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries.

This map shows the total catches of tuna in the exclusive economic zones of Pacific Island countries (5-year averages 2013-2017) and the contributions of tuna fishing license fees to government revenue in 2016.

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