THE United States AID (USAID) $15 million regional fish project ‘OurFish OurFuture’ was launched on Friday at the Heritage Park Hotel in Honiara.
Through ‘OurFish OurFuture’ USAID will support regional projects to maintain healthy, well-managed, secure and sustainable coastal fisheries ecosystems in the Pacific Islands region.
This is a five-year partnership (2021-2026) to address the social and ecological drivers of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing that are degrading coastal fisheries and biodiversity and negatively impacting local livelihoods, food stability, and maritime security in Melanesian and Micronesia.
The activity sites for OurFish OurFuture focuses on six countries; Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
According to USAID workshop statement, the OurFish OurFuture activity will foster substantial changes in social and ecological aspects of coastal ecosystems by catalysing small scale approaches to solve ecosystem scale problems.
“Working with existing networks, the OurFish OurFuture activity will use virtual communities of practice to share information, tools, and best practices to implement a culturally sensitive and ecosystem-scale fisheries governance system with (1) inclusive and transparent decision-making process that are informed by traditional knowledge and science, and (2) increasing stakeholder engagement and agreement with measures to address IUU fishing and other threats to ecosystem level biodiversity threats,” the USAID statement said.
The vision for the activity is “Vibrant, resilient, and empowered Micronesian and Melanesia communities maintain healthy, well-managed, secure, and sustainable coastal fisheries and ecosystems through regional and national governance built upon Pacific culture and application of an ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM).”
OurFish OurFuture will foster informed coastal EAFM and reduced IUU fishing to improve the sovereignty, securing, and sustainability in the two subregions.
Partners will improve coastal fisheries data systems, improve enforcement capabilities, and strengthen collaboration of enforcement authorities.
OurFish OurFuture will develop and scale private sector partnerships that mobilise and enhance coastal fishery supply chains in contributing to the growth of Blue Economy in the Pacific Islands region.
Partners will pilot innovating conservation financing models and develop interventions to promote value chain addition and retention.
OurFish OurFuture will integrate greater community, gender, and youth engagement in activity design, implementation, and monitoring.
The project will ensure shocks and stresses are factored into EAFM plans to boost the resilience of coastal ecosystems and fishery-based livelihoods.
Partners will work to increase equitable access and control of coastal fisheries, ecosystems, resources, and products, as well as increase resilience and adaptive capacity through enhanced planning at regional and scales.
After the launching, the one day workshop was held to discuss about the project.
USAID is proud to contribution to the new contribution and partnership between the fish program and regional partners, the private sectors the civil societies and community leaders.
The implementing partners are The University of Rhode Island (Graduate School of Oceanography), Coastal Resources Centre, WWF, Network and the University of the South Pacific.
By LACHLAN EDDIE
Solomon Star, Honiara