Toolkits and awareness materials to strengthen by-catch mitigation efforts in Fiji’s offshore fishing industry

Fishermen hold toolkits and awareness materials
Feature Image caption
Fishermen holding toolkits and awareness materials. Credit: WWF

To reduce mortality of by-catch and endangered, threatened, and protected (ETP) species mortality and encourage safer by-catch handling in Fiji's offshore fishing industry, 54 by-catch mitigation toolkits have been distributed to Fiji Fishing Industry Association (FFIA) member longline fishing vessels.

The supply of the by-catch mitigation toolkits was supported by the By-catch and Integrated Ecosystem Management (BIEM) Initiative implemented by SPREP under the Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership (PEUMP) Programme funded by the European Union and the Government of Sweden.

WWF-Pacific’s Fisheries Policy Officer, Vilisoni Tarabe highlights “the by-catch toolkits and awareness materials are a result of discussions and planning between WWF, FFIA, Ministry of Fisheries Fiji and a wide range of stakeholders and is a great achievement as skippers and crew are now well equipped with by-catch mitigation tools and materials to safely handle and release by-catch of endangered and threatened species.”

Jamie Davies, BIEM Initiative Manager at SPREP added his support for the initiative added his support for the initiative.

“By-catch of sea turtles, sharks, seabirds, whales and dolphins are one of the many threats facing these important species. For example, according to Fiji’s Ministry of Fisheries 2019 data estimates reveal that 2,448 sharks and 45 sea turtles were un-intentionally caught by Fiji tuna longliners.  In comparison, 2018 data estimates reveal that 4,311 sharks and 83 sea turtles were un-intentionally caught. This is a positive sign, but SPREP recognises the importance of further reducing these figures and is very pleased to be supporting efforts in Fiji and across the Pacific to reduce the catch of non-target species and, if they are caught, to ensure that fishing crews have the knowledge and equipment to release them alive when possible.”