Community-based Fisheries Workshop (Nadi, Fiji)

By Kevin Chang

KUA was represented in Nadi, Fiji last week at the Community-based Fisheries Workshop supported by the Pacific Community. Government, Civil Society Organizations, and community attendees included representatives from Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Western Samoa, Wallis & Futuna, French Polynesia, Nauru, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Palau, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, Tuvalu, Cook Islands and Fiji.

The conference agenda laid out: “For Pacific people, coastal fisheries are fundamental for supporting their livelihoods, nutrition and health, culture, and economies. However, it is only in the last 30 years or so that fisheries policies in the Pacific Islands region have come to recognize the significant contributions of coastal fisheries and only in the last decade has this translated to the need for management underpinned by community-based fisheries management (CBFM) approaches.”

Discussions were held among 17 Pacific Island Nation’s fisheries representatives, traditional and local leaders and NGOs. As we do here at home, the terms “low cost” and “cost effective” are consistently used to describe what solutions had to be, to describe any kind of malama aina work and the way forward. I understand why. On the other hand I expressed that we have to be careful we do not devalue ourselves, our people, our kuleana, our work and our earth. We are no longer in an era where conservationism has the privilege of being poetic, romantic and detached (in spirit,in cost, and cost assessment). Our planet is the bank account from which we’ve made excessive withdrawals. Money does not represent those withdrawals. Life: nature and our natural resources do. Money represents our commitment to earth’s care. Our current investment in the care for the ʻāina gets an F and on an island over 2,000 miles away from anywhere else an F is unacceptable.

“Nightly, I spent time in Talanoa, talking story with members of our Pacific island family,” and “every night we spoke of many of the same struggles and concerns. Here at home communities have fought hard to establish their right to manage their fisheries in Haena, Milolii, Kipahulu. Mo’omomi and more to come. It took at least 30 years to set up 3 CBSFA as of this past January in Kipahulu. Meanwhile, outside of Hawaiʻi, among our Pacific island ohana (family) 600 communities of 10,000 shoreline communities are managing their fisheries resources across the region through community-led efforts.” Governments and communities in the Pacific Islands are looking to see how more can be done.

Serendipitously, or purposefully, E Alu Pū, Hui Mālama Loko Iʻa and KUA have also followed the evolution of this 3-decade Pacific movement despite our absence from the discussion due to Hawaiʻi’s status as a state of the United States. Hawaiʻi’s home, spirit and culture is in the Pacific. We hope these connections build the bridges that will help change this with time. KUA will share about networks and the commonality of community-based natural resource management as a long-time tradition in the Pacific.

– Kevin Chang

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