13 Oct 2020 - IPS - Coastal fisheries in the Pacific Islands have become a food and livelihood lifeline to many people who have lost jobs, especially in urban centres and tourism, following COVID-19 lockdowns and border closures. Now governments and development organisations are trying to meet the crisis-driven survival needs of here and now, while also considering the long-term consequences on near shore marine resources and habitats.
“In Vanuatu, we don’t have any cases of COVID-19. But around us the world is in lockdown and the incomes indigenous people usually get from tourism have all gone, they have completely come to a halt,” Leias Cullwick, Executive Director of the Vanuatu National Council of Women in Port Vila, told IPS. Tourism accounts for an estimated 40 percent of Vanuatu’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“But we still have our own land to plant crops and we can get fish from the sea,” she continued.
Subsistence and small-scale commercial fisheries in coastal areas are a crucial source of nutrition and incomes to communities throughout the Pacific Islands. Fifty percent of coastal households in the region gain a primary or secondary income from fishing, while 89 percent of households generally consume seafood on a weekly basis, according to the regional development organisation, the Pacific Community (SPC).