February 4, 2023
Satoshi Nagashima (Expert of Fisheries Extension)
In an article in November 2019, I described that JICA has been implementing a community-based fisheries management project in Vanuatu, the South Pacific, since 2007, known as the "Grace of the Sea Project", which developed an approach to motivate communities to manage their fisheries resource. The current phase 3 (2017-) of the project was working to disseminate the project's approach within Vanuatu and to neighbouring Melanesian countries.
In order to disseminate the approach, preparations were underway to invite officials involved in coastal fisheries management from South Pacific countries (Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea) to Vanuatu in early April 2020 to hold a regional seminar to develop a regional version of CBFM implementation guidelines. However, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic that began in early 2020, the Japanese experts and volunteers in Vanuatu were forced to urgently return to Japan in March 2020, just two weeks before the seminar was due to take place, and the regional seminar had to be abruptly suspended. After almost two years of project interruption and another preparation period, the regional seminar was held from 1st to 4th February 2023, over three years later.
In organising this seminar, talks of collaboration with the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), an intergovernmental organization overseeing the Melanesian countries headquartered in Vanuatu, and the Pacific Community (SPC), an international development organisation overseeing the South Pacific countries, proceeded smoothly, and the seminar was co-hosted with these regional international organisations. In addition, three additional participants from Papua New Guinea were added through MSG's budget support.
The first day of the seminar included an opening speech by the Director General of the MSG, a presentation by the SPC on scaling-up strategies for CBFM, and presentations of activities on CBFM from each participating country. This was also published in the Vanuatu Daily Post, a Vanuatu newspaper. The link to the Vanuatu Daily Post article is:
On the second day, a field trip was planned to visit Emae Island, one of the pilot sites, but had to be cancelled due to an underwater volcanic eruption on neighbouring Epi Island the day before the visit. As someone who had visited Emae Island for five days the week before to prepare for the visit, I am very disappointed and more than that, I feel very sorry for the Emae Island community who had willingly accepted this field trip and had been making preparations for it. As an alternative, we invited the participants to visit Mangaliliu on Efate Island to see the community hatchery that the project had helped with the construction and past project activities. Representatives from Tonga's Fisheries Department looked with great emotion at the second generation of juvenile of giant clams, which were transplanted from Tonga to Vanuatu in 2007, and seemed to realise the importance of intra-regional cooperation.
On the third and fourth days, the Vanuatu version of the CBFM implementation guidelines and tool manual were introduced, followed by a lively discussion on advanced initiatives and case studies from the participating countries. For closing remarks, the Deputy DG of the MSG came and gave a speech despite the holiday. The four-day enriching programme ended successfully with a Kava, a traditional Vanuatu drink.
Activities will continue towards the development of a regional version of the CBFM implementation guidelines based on the discussions at this regional seminar, and I hope that this regional seminar will serve as a catalyst for more active collaboration within the region.
Presentation by counterparts on the current status of CBFM in Vanuatu
Participants from Tonga pose for a photo with the second generation of giant clams transplanted from Tonga to Vanuatu in Phase 1 at the community hatchery in Mangaliliu, Efate
Discussions on CBFM implementation guidelines with participating countries