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The Involvement of Students in the Collection of Artisanal Fishery Data - A New Way Forward


Gilles Hosch


FAO Sub-Regional Office for the Pacific Islands Apia, Samoa


Traditional subsistence and artisanal fisheries provide sustenance, employment, and income to many Pacific islanders and are of great importance to national economies and food security. The pervasive lack of subsistence fisheries data across the region and the worrying number of accounts of collapsing stocks and species extinctions are of growing concern to authorities involved in managing coastal fishery resources. The author explores new grounds for overcoming two fundamental hurdles for the successful management of subsistence fisheries. It is argued that under a scenario of increasing fishing pressures and changing societies, primary data to found management decisions upon and awareness of the new generation towards the vulnerability of their resources are fundamental. The proposed way of achieving both is through the "Artisanal Fisheries Student Census." Secondary schools integrate an assignment into their science curriculum, within the framework of which students get lectured on coastal resources and fisheries and then record their household's fishing activity over a short period. The collected data flow back to competent authorities who analyze them and make them available for fisheries management. The paper describes in some detail key considerations for the successful implementation of such a program."

FAO Citation

Hosch. 1999. The involvement of students in the collection of artisanal fishery data - A new way forward : paper tabled at the MRAG Workshop on aspects of coastal resource management - Suva, Fiji, 30th June to 2nd July, 1999. : 9.

Relevancy to curriculum

The author gives a concrete example of an assignment incorporated into students' science curriculum in Samoa. The AFSC operates as follows:

The Fisheries Department prepares a range of materials (log books, teaching support material, workbooks) for a secondary school which participates in the programme. Students from that school log information in their households on fishing activity, bring it back to their school, where it is pooled and sent off to the Fisheries Department, which seeks the information. There, the data are fed into a database, get analysed and stored, and can henceforth be used for fisheries management purposes.

The achievements of an operative AFSC are twofold; 1) artisanal fisheries data are generated and 2) awareness for the coastal resources is raised among the young of the fishing communities. The main takeaways for our curriculum are the following:

  1. Keep curriculum activities simple,

  2. Make expectations clear among each party involved (school and fisheries department),

  3. Ideally, a "demand-based approach" works best where each party sees the value of their participation rather than as an extra responsibility to simply complete.

links to ssf guidelines chapters

    5. Governance of (5a.) Tenure in Small-Scale Fisheries & (5b.) Resource Management, 10. Policy Coherence, Institutional Coordination & Collaboration, 11. Information, Research & Communication, 12. Capacity Development, 13. Implementation Support & Monitoring

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