BY LYNTON AARON FILIA
SMALL-SCALE commercial fisheries has provided important income cash for Solomon Islanders despite the value being low compared to substance and tuna fisheries, it is reported.
The National Marine Ecosystem Service Valuation report stated fisheries creates employment opportunities for an estimated 30,000 Solomon Islanders compared to the 5,000 in formal employment.
Small-scale fisheries local involved in comprises of reef fish and invertebrates, beche-de-mer, trochus and aquarium trade.
Reef fish and some invertebrates are sold locally and beche-de-mer, trochus and aquarium products are harvested for export.
It said, although value of such activities is low compared to subsistence and tuna fisheries, they provide important cash income for Solomon Islanders.
The report highlights fish and invertebrates sold in local markets account for a total economic value of SBD$70.3 million per year (US$9.4 million), which corresponds to SBD$156/year/person and 0.8 percent of the total nominal GDP of Solomon Islands.
The economic value is much less than the substance fishery because of the costs of bringing fish to market.
The sustainability of subsistence and small-scale commercial fishing are interrelated.
The challenge is fisheries are threatened where population is most dense, it said.
On the other hand, Beche-de-mer and trochus the report stated as highly valued product on international markets.
Catches and export from 1999 to 2010 have accounted for an average annual gross export value of SBD$3.3 million (USD$446,000) and SBD$2.1 million (USD$284,000) respectively.
These values have been decreasing steadily for past 40 years.
Trochus is also valuable locally, so the figure above underestimates the total economic value of the ecosystem service, it said.
Despite periodic export moratoriums, both fisheries are overexploited and not sustainably manage.
In terms of the Aquarium trade exports from 1999 to 2010 have accounted for on average SBD$1.2 million per year (USD$163,000).
Although magnitude of this ecosystem service is small, it appears sustainable.
With this, it is important for control measures over use of destructive fishing practices should be strengthened as it may impose negative impact other fisheries.
Government management efforts are focused primarily on export industries, despite the fact that net benefits to communities and household are much larger for substance and local market fisheries, it said.