Palau Educates Fishers to Save Fisheries

reef-in-Palau-with-fish-600x450The Republic of Palau, a small island nation just north of New Guinea, is throwing its support behind a new technique to protect their vital fisheries.   You see, the people of Palau depend on tourism for most of their nations GDP, and unlike many other nations in the Pacific Micronesia area their reef system wasn’t exploited to dangerous levels. In fact they have one of the most pristine reefs in the region, which makes their country a favorite spot for maritime tourism, mainly scuba diving. In recent years though, people have been noticing that the local fish populations seem to be diminishing.

How did they go about confirming this suspicion? Truth be told, they couldn’t.   Gauging the health of a fisheries takes many years of collecting samples in order to build up a cohesive idea about the health of that fishery. It is a large and usually expensive undertaking that many developing nations, like Palau simply can’t

The clever solution, as it turns out, was to teach the fishermen how to gather the data themselves.   By teaching them how to log the gender and size of the fish scientists were able to build a usable model of the reef system around Palau.   They found out that a majority of the fish being caught were juveniles and had not yet had a chance to breed, which could account for the diminishing population.   Thankfully many communities are now taking steps to protect their local resources now that they have the information they need and even firsthand experience with the effects fishing has on their livelihood.

-Jonathan Britton

Fishermen In Palau Take on Role of Scientist to Save Their Fishery- Carl Safina of Blue Ocean Institute in Ocean Veiws on November 5, 2013


5 thoughts on “Palau Educates Fishers to Save Fisheries”

  1. This is a very cool example of a very progressive and modern management strategy. Involving the general public in collecting data, sometimes called Citizen Science, is an idea that is gaining traction. Palau has gone an extra step however by making the people using the resource have a central role in conserving the resource. Not only does this help management, but it also gives the users a more concrete connection to their resource, making them more responsible and probably more likely to follow management regulations.

  2. This was a great positive article and fishery management plan to read about. I hope that other fisheries will begin to do the same, and get the public involved in helping conserve their wildlife.

  3. Great to see that something is being done early to help find the problems in a fishery. It was also awesome to see that a simple solution was taken such as educating fisherman to collect data themselves. Shows how powerful simply educating the public can be! Great article.

    1. The bottom up approach is probably better than the top down approach to management. I think this is a pretty good example of how a fishery can be managed by the people who interact with it to survive.

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