The community-based fisheries management project aims to ensure that coastal fisheries are sustainably managed so that fish stocks do not become overexploited and continue to provide benefits such as food and livelihoods to the current and future I-Kiribati generations.
When it comes to fisheries management, government agencies at the national and island level can manage I-Kiribati fisheries. Under the CBFM project, communities are also recognised to have a role to play in the sustainable management of coastal fisheries. It is because communities have a strong knowledge on their fisheries. Community members will notice changes in the abundance of certain key species such as if it takes longer to catch the same amount of fish as before or if the size of fish is declining. The community-based fisheries management project aims to work with communities to understand how all community members can be involved in ensuring the sustainable management of their fisheries. It means working with the Unimwane, men, women and youths to make decisions and rules about the fisheries. Communities are not alone under the project and the national agencies such as MFMRD, the Island Council and the Unimwane associations are strong partners. Under the CBFM, the philosophy is that by all working together, we can achieve sustainable coastal fisheries management

Who is involved?

The CBFM project started in May 2014 as a partnership between MFMRD, the University of Wollongong and the Pacific Community (SPC) with funding from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. And of course, the project involves communities, island councils and Unimwane associations.

Where do we work?

The CBFM project started as a pilot project. It means that a few communities volunteered to trial the approach. Five communities have been involved since the start of the project. We work in Buariki and Tabonibara in North Tarawa and in Kuma, Tanimaiaki and Bikati in Butaritari.

How do we work?

  • Work with everyone in the community
  • Follow the formal and informal rules at the Island and the village, ensure that the Island Council, the Unimwane association, village executive committee are all involved.
  • Organisation of community meetings with Unimwane, men, women and youths to understand the status of the coastal fisheries.
  • Communities identify changes and issues with their fisheries and then we work with them to develop their own community-based fisheries management plans with rules and actions which can be taken by village members to look after their coastal fisheries.
  • In the community plan, some actions can be too big for community members to achieve alone and that’s where the Island Council and MFMRD or other national agencies come in to assist.
  • The CBFM team at MFMRD assist with creating the support between all people involved from the village to the national government.
  • To learn from one another, we also organise Stakeholder meetings.
  • The actions on the management plans are monitored closely to know what works and what does not.

Some achievements

Phase 1
  • All 5 communities are implementing some of the major actions in their management plan:
    • Buariki passed a by-law banning destructive fishing such as te orooro or the harvesting of the goatfish during its spawning season. They also developed a bye-law as an incorporated society to protect bonefish and goatfish.
    • Tabonibara village banned the harvesting of silver biddy during their spawning season.
    • Bikati in Butaritari set up a first ever community MPA, which is supported by the Unimwane association, Island Council and all villages of Butaritari.
    • Kuma, Tanimaiaki and Bikati village completely banned defecation on the beach and set up all households with their own toilets. This is big achievement in terms of making sure the land is clean to maintain the health of the marine environment. Moreover, the three villages all banned small mesh-size gillnets and destructive fishing methods like te borakai (gillnetting around coral) and te maebono (closing of fish passages).
  • CBFM has brought some villages and islands together, ex: Kuma South and North in Butaritari or Makin supporting Butaritari CBFM pilot sites with their plans.
  • Each village has set up CBFM or Nei Tengarengare committees to be the voice of the program in the villages.
  •  In Butaritari, they have also set up an island-wide CBFM committee that involves the Unimwane, Island Council, and representatives from all the villages. The committee members also attend the CBFM stakeholder meetings.
Phase 2
  • In a full island council meeting in early 2017, Eutan North Tarawa Council agreed to collectively support CBFM activities across the whole island. The Mayor has also publicly championed CBFM activities on more than one occasion.
  • Other villages and islands that are not part of the pilot project are expressing interest in CBFM – Aranuka and Abaiang requested CBFM to assist them develop their management plans.
    • Ewena, a village in Abaiang, is keen to use CBFM as they are deeply concerned about the depleting status of their marine resources.
  • Developing the management Plans for Kainaba, Nabeina, Tabiteuea and Abatao.
  • Developing proposals for Marine Protected Areas proposed by the islets of Kainaba, Nabeina, Tabiteuea and Abatao.
  • Establishment of the NCBRM Taskforce. The objective of the taskforce is to ensure that all community based projects or initiatives conducted by various Ministries and NGOs are centralized and all well-coordinated, there is no duplications, and resources are used effectively and efficiently
  • Assisting MFMRD and Environment and Conservation Division (ECD) with the Creation of Management Plans for Communities outside the Existing Pilot Islands
  • Assisting the Coastal Fisheries Division in the development of the Management Plans for the Islets of Ribono and Nuotaea on Abaiang and Nanikaai Community on South Tarawa.
  • Assisting the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) project from ECD in the development of Management Plans for Communities on Abemama

Future Activities

  • Hold a road map workshop for Coastal Fisheries Division to finalize the plan
  • Expand CBFM program in new islands Marakei, Aranuka and Tabiteuea
  • Implementation of the National Community based resource management Taskforce
  • Develop more and new awareness materials.
  • Support the establishment of new MPAs in North Tarawa, Butaritari and for communities requesting assistance from the Coastal Fisheries Division
  • Assist Coastal Fisheries Division with technical assistance and support in CBFM
What if you want to know more?

Please contact the team:




Tarateiti Uriam

CBFM Project Coordinator

Rooti Tioti

CBFM Project Officer

Toaiti Vanguna

CBFM Project Officer