Fisher perceptions about abundance and catch rates of sea cucumbers in Fiji
Purcell, SW, Lalavanua, W & Tagica, S 2017, 'Fisher perceptions about abundance and catch rates of sea cucumbers in Fiji', in S Mangubhai, W Lalavanua & SW Purcell (eds) Fiji's sea cucumber fishery: advances in science for improved management Report no. 01/17, Wildlife Conservation Society, Suva, Fiji, pp. 16-22. ISBN: 0982026307
Data on fisher perceptions from interview surveys can help to validate findings from underwater visual census (UVC) of fishery stocks. We conducted questionnaire-based interviews with 235 sea cucumber fishers in 8 locations around Fiji. In all but one location, fishers on average perceived stocks as declining or worse. Most fishers thought the reason for the decline was too many fishers participating in the fishery. One-quarter of fishers believed fishing gears (i.e. SCUBA) were a main problem. Based on fisher knowledge, current catches for an average day of fishing have declined by one-half to three-quarters in the past decades. Our study on fisher perceptions reinforces findings from UVC that sea cucumber stocks are in an over-harvested state across most locations in Fiji. Socioeconomic surveys offer a cost-effective approach to diagnosing changes in sea cucumber stocks. A ban on SCUBA will help protect deeper water stocks and minimise diving injuries, but will unlikely curb exploitation to a sustainable level. To achieve sustainability in the long term, our findings suggest that resource managers in Fiji and other Pacific fisheries should consider limited-entry rules in the fishery as a means to reduce the overall annual catch.