Detecting fisheries trends in a co-managed area in the Kingdom of Tonga

Webster, Fiona J., Cohen, Philippa J., Malimali, Siola'a, Tauati, Mele, Vidler, Karen, Mailau, Sione, Vaipuna, Lavinia, and Fatongiatau, Viliami (2017) Detecting fisheries trends in a co-managed area in the Kingdom of Tonga. Fisheries Research, 186 (Part 1). pp. 168-176.

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Community based and co-management approaches are increasingly used strategies for marine conservation and sustainable management in the tropical Pacific. However, our understanding of the effectiveness of co-management on marine resources and socio economic conditions is relatively limited, often due to insufficient resources to support monitoring based on ecological condition or catch landings data. Monitoring programmes based on the perceptions of resource users are often presented as a cost effective alternative to understanding the status and changes in resource and socio economic conditions. Ecological, catch landings and perception-based data, and their collection methods, have different benefits and limitations for community-based programmes. Here we present a study of the first community-based, co-managed area in the Kingdom of Tonga the small island of 'O'ua. We examine both perception based data from interviews and catch landings data to describe fishing activities, catches and changes in resource status and socio economic conditions since the inception of co-management. Landings data were collected by the community over a five year period; perceptions of change and management performance were collected through structured interviews with fishers based on the same time period. The majority of fishing within the 'O'ua co-managed area was by men, using hand spears in fibreglass vessels <5 m in length powered by an outboard engine. We found that catch per unit effort was high (especially the estimates generated from perception data) compared to other parts of the Pacific. Since the inception of co-management fishers reported improved socio economic conditions, a greater sense of stewardship over resources, active involvement in management and the effective exclusion of 'outside' fishers. We compared catch and catch-per-unit-effort estimates generated from landings and perception data. While fishers perceived that catches had improved since the inception of co-management, landings data suggested that catches were either stable or declining. These differences are important as they would suggest very different management responses. We discuss the trade-offs between the catch landings and perception data in terms of accuracy, precision, participation and cost for the purpose of guiding adjustments to co-management.

Item ID: 50424
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1872-6763
Keywords: co-management, monitoring, catch landings, perceptions
Funders: Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Tonga, Australian International Aid (AIA), Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)
Projects and Grants: AIA Tonga Fisheries Project, ACIAR grant FIS/2012/074
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2017 08:49
FoR Codes: 30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3005 Fisheries sciences > 300505 Fisheries management @ 100%
SEO Codes: 83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8302 Fisheries - Wild Caught > 830299 Fisheries- Wild Caught not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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