Find Fisheries expertise in Solomon Islands
- Overview of the industry
- Fishery bodies
Fisheries, alongside agriculture and forestry, contribute to 35% of the Solomon Islands’ GDP in 2008, while fisheries alone contributed about $27 million. While the Solomon Islands does not have a continental shelf, it does have a fairly large water area of 1,340,000 km2 and a continental coastline of 4270 km The fishing sector employs an estimated 5114 in the primary sector, though this only includes ‘formal jobs’ and the actual number is likely to be much higher.
As 90% of the population lives in remote, rural areas, subsistence fishing is a crucial source of nutrition. In addition, raw and processed tuna are major export commodities for the Solomon Islands. The country’s fisheries sector is characterized by a significant amount of subsistence fishing and offshore industrial fishing. Offshore fisheries account for a large proportion of formal employment.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization identified six distinct sub-sectors in the countries fisheries sector: coastal commercial, coastal subsistence, offshore locally-based, offshore foreign-based, freshwater and aquaculture.
The largest of these by production value is offshore foreign-based fisheries which catch much more than local vessels. License fees collected from foreign fishing vessels provide a substantial source of government revenue. Among the species exploited by the sector are tuna (constituting around 90% of the offshore catch profile), shark, billfish, rainbow runner, snappers, mackerel, opah, wahoo and triggerfish.
The catch profile of the coastal fishery on the other hand is mainly reef and lagoon finfish, some edible invertebrates, bait fish as well as a number of species that are exported worth about $1.3 million annually including bêche de nerm (sea cucumber), cirakm, trochus, shark fins, aquarium fish and lobster.
Solomon Islands also has a significant inland sub-sector though much smaller than the marine fishery. Most production is for subsistence purposes, with most fishing occurring in rivers where the catch profile is flagtails, gobies, eels, and freshwater shrimps as important native species, as well as tilapia – an introduced species- is important in small ponds and lakes.
Finally, the aquaculture subsector is based on the coral culture, seaweed culture and post larval capture and culture based on lobsters, shrimp and fish.
Fisheries are under the administration of the Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) in accordance with the Fisheries Act of 1998. The MFMR is made up of five divisions, namely research, aquaculture, licensing and enforcement, extension, statistics and an administration unit. There are however no bodies that represent the interest of small-scale fishers in the Solomon Islands. Although the Fisheries Act of 1998 did establish a Fisheries Advisory council consisting of major stakeholders, the group has not met in several years.