On this island in Papua New Guinea, tribal communities have embraced sustainable fisheries management.
Manus Island: On this island in Papua New Guinea, tribal communities have embraced sustainable fisheries management. © Tane Sinclair-Taylor

Stories in the Pacific Islands

High-Value Fisheries Model

In Manus, Papua New Guinea, we are helping local resource owners assess their economically valuable sea cucumber fisheries.

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Manus is a small island in Papua New Guinea, where the seascapes and ocean support the livelihoods of its community. With the majority of Manus’ people living on or near coasts, these waters provide a wide range of services, from meeting the daily protein needs of local populations to creating income through fishing, tourism and aquaculture.

Yet these ocean waters, and the services they provide, are at risk. Overfishing, habitat loss and degradation, pollution, development and the growing impacts of climate change are threatening both food security and local livelihoods. To address these challenges, The Nature Conservancy is helping local resource owners assess their economically valuable sea cucumber fisheries and establish sustainable management regimes, including a network of protected areas.

After an eight-year hiatus to allow stocks to repopulate, this sea cucumber fishery on Manus Island has re-opened. Working with the tribal group, Mwanus Endras Asi Resource Development Network (MEARDN), we conducted marine and socio-economic surveys before the opening and after the closing of the season to assess the impact of the fishery’s harvest.

For the first time, working at both the supply and demand sides of this seafood chain, we used science to determine the size and scale at which sea cucumber fisheries need to be managed to provide economic benefits without impacting populations, and we assessed the market potential for sustainably harvested marine resources in Hong Kong and China while developing strategies to create demand for sustainable products that could command a price premium.

This important TNC-led scientific work has redefined knowledge of the richness and distribution of the region’s marine resources, inspiring new support for conservation. We need support from you, too.