Funafuti, Tuvalu - Coastal fishery stocks have sustained island communities for generations in Tuvalu but is under increasing pressure due to the impacts of climate change and unsustainable fishing practices.
An assessment conducted by the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Tuvalu Department of Fishery in 2013, found that important fish species and sea cucumbers in Funafuti waters had decreased. About 83% of respondents claimed they felt their catches had decreased compared to five years ago and 67% of respondents claimed sizes of fish had decrease compared to five years ago.
Semese Alefaio, a fisherman of over 30 years said, “There’s been a distinctive reduction in the availability of fish, turtles and clams over the years. Nowadays, we have to go further out to sea and spend more time to fetch a decent catch.”
In recognising the pressures this trend places on the livelihoods of local communities, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji assisted the Government of Tuvalu to successfully access US$3.7 million from the Global Environment Facility to implement a national Ridge to Reef Project.
The Project was recently launched in the capital, Funafuti, with the aim to preserve ecosystem services, sustain livelihoods and improve resilience in Tuvalu using a ‘ridge-to-reef’ approach. The approach is an effort to restore, rehabilitate and enhance marine and terrestrial ecosystems.
The Prime Minister, Honourable Enele Sosene Sopoaga has committed himself to this course saying, “Protection of biodiversity is protection of life. What we do on land impacts our coral reefs - there is a clear connection. I will do all I can to protect our biodiversity”.
Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Trade, Tourism, Environment and Labour Secretary, Temate Melitiana in his opening remarks underlined the value of the project in addressing impacts of climate change and development issues such as waste management.
Executed nationally by the Department of Environment, the five-year project will strengthen management of coastal fisheries on nine islands in Tuvalu and work closely with the government and island councils.
UNDP Resident Representative, Osnat Lubrani said, “UNDP is privileged to assist Tuvalu implement the Ridge to Reef Project which is designed to improve livelihood and well-being of communities on the nine islands.
“The Project will enable Tuvalu to address environmental and social priorities stipulated in the 2016-2020 National Strategy for Sustainable Development.”
Representatives from the Department of Environment, Department of Agriculture, Department of Rural Development, Department of Gender Affairs, Solid Waste Agency of Tuvalu, the Pacific Community Geoscience Division and UNDP were present at the inception workshop.
Emily Moli, UNDP Knowledge Communications Analyst, tel: +679 3227504 / 7191112; email: firstname.lastname@example.org