Western Solomons Fisheries Challenges

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GOVERNMENT Fisheries Officer, Chillion Panasasa’s interest is more on field work like surveying of marine ecosystem and diving under water, to help rural communities realize the value and importance of conserving and managing their marine resources for sustainable use.

Provincial Fisheries Officer, Chillion Panasasa. PHOTO:MAINE LIVETT

His field of study in University is on marine science. He is now working five years overseeing the Fisheries division in the western province.

However, his role since joining the government ministry in 2016, is not specifically on what he said he’s passionate about, but now more on administration and planning matters.

He administers fisheries centers in Seghe in the Marovo lagoon to Shortland Islands in the far west out skirts of the province.

Some of the programs he’s engaging in are planning and doing Radio awareness and market awareness, to control and manage harvesting of marine resources, as well as training fishermen and fish vendors on the importance of fish handling.

Fish caught and sold at Gizo market. PHOTO: MAINE LIVETT.

Geography of the province, as people living in dispersed Islands is an obvious contributing factor to the challenge of reaching people living amongst remote communities.

“West is a big province, but with less man power and resources,” Panasasa said, “It’s not easy to cover remote parts of the province, example in the unreached parts of New Georgia, there’s no survey done on the marine life.”

He said, it’s a big challenge as the provincial division is not well resourced to implemented planned programs, and budgets formulated are realistic anticipating for funds to be available sooner than later, but funds are not forth coming as expected, and as he alluded, the wait is too long.

“we are demoralized because of the luck of fund and so not motivated.

“Programs piled up in the office, and we don’t know which one we are going to do first.” He said.

Another important material that Panasasa is looking at pursuing is development of draft Provincial Fisheries Ordinance (PFO). He believes that an Ordinance will make it a lot easier for his division to enforce fisheries regulations at the provincial level.

Fisheries Officers, Chillion and Simeon demonstrating during a workshop last month.

He said, a draft Western Province Fisheries Ordinance will go through consultations with all stake holders from the government to the community.

“Each province has to have provincial Fisheries Ordinance and the ordinance should aligned with national fisheries laws,” He said, “but with lessen penalty.”

“If we have Fisheries ordinance, enforcement will be easier to carry out,” He pointed out.

He said an ordinance will going to regulate harvesting of the province’s marine resources, for instance fishermen will only be allowed to catch harvestable sizes of reef fish and crustaceans.

“I’m working on the ordinance and it must be passed and gazzetted,” he said, “At the moment our Office only use the national fisheries regulation for our awareness of the species.”

The fisheries division continues with raising awareness at the provincial centers, to remind people of the “catch size limit” of certain species, species that are not for sell under Solomon Islands Fisheries Regulations, types of nets not allowed and endangered species such as Dugong and Leatherback Turtle, which comes under the “NO CATCHING”, “NO DESTROYING” category.

A sign Board at the Fish Market in Gizo Town. PHOTO: MAINE LIVETT.

Panasasa also pointed out some common practices by fishermen which poses threat to marine species, especially amongst the reefs’ ecosystem.

“Especially on night diving, fish sleeps at night so divers killed dead fish,” he said, “also, all nets less than eight centimeters are not allowed.

The Fisheries officer also mentioned the use of nets amongst shallow reef areas. He pointed out those practice as threat to sustainable management of marine resources, especially fish.

He also mentioned the government ministry’s working on the upgrading of the division’s office building in Gizo, after new staff houses complete.

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