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Coastal Fisheries Division (CFD)


The Coastal Fisheries Division (CFD) is one of the major Divisions within the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources Development.

It has 10 units including a Subdivision in Kiritimati Island. The primary focus of the Coastal Fisheries Division is to sustainably develop and manage the coastal and near shore marine resources to maximize economic returns and social benefits for the present and future generation of Kiribati. The CFD develops its work program in alignment with the Kiribati National Fisheries Policy and the Kiribati Development Plan. 

Kiribati’s nearshore and coastal areas provide food, livelihoods, and nutrition, income and employment benefits. Fisheries play a critical role in local food security in Kiribati where the per capita consumption seafood is one of the highest in the world. Coastal fisheries also provide substantial employment and income benefits. In a recent national population census, over half of all surveyed households were engaged in fishing activities. 

CFD work with Island Councils, which have direct jurisdiction over natural resource use including coastal fisheries in accordance with the Local Government Act. Councils have the authority to regulate and control fishing activity targeting coastal resources. In relation to natural resources, the function of Island Councils is to improve and control fishing and related industries. The island council is responsible for implementing these management rules through specific bye-laws. 

The enforcement of fisheries laws, regulations and generating high levels of compliance visible to the public pose a significant challenge to coastal fisheries managers. There are currently limitations on institutional capacity, the capacity of available human resources, finances, and legal frameworks governing coastal fisheries. However, there is an urgency to boost areas in management regimes and institutional capacity to better address monitoring and enforcement and ensure that our coastal fisheries continue to be sustainable to support the Kiribati population. 

An important role that CFD plays is to raise awareness and educate the population. Key issues include:  

  • Closed seasons, closed areas and marine protected areas (MPAs)

  • The marine food web

  • Sustainability

  • Species life cycles and stages (the importance of applying size limits)

  • Effects of overfishing, use of destructive fishing gear/methods, climate change impacts, etc., to our marine resources

  • Food security 

CFD aims to inform and thereby empower the public on fisheries management, for instance:

  • Specific dates of closures & species names, tide calendar, protected sites

  • Statistics on compliance level, fisheries stock assessments, socio-economic survey results,

  • Feedback from stakeholders (to help improve compliance)

  • Success stories (recovery of resources due to compliance to regs & management plans)

  • National monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement (MCSE) forum events, meetings, updates

  • Focal points/contacts for MCSE 

The Kiribati National Coastal Fisheries Roadmap 2019-2036 has the following key principles will guide the overall implementation:

  • Recognize women, youth, and vulnerable group’s contribution to coastal fisheries and promote more inclusive fisheries management platforms and livelihoods.

  • Recognize diverse users, their roles and responsibilities in coastal fisheries; promote community-based fisheries management (CBFM)1, co-management, capacity building, motivation and empowerment of communities.

  • Promote and strengthen partnerships and networking across all stakeholders and key players involved in coastal fisheries at the national, sub- national, regional scale, and with international partners.

  • Promote ecosystem-based approaches to fisheries management (EAFM) to ensure a holistic approach to decision-making processes and the improved management of coastal fisheries.

  • Promote good governance, transparency, accountability and continually updated best practice in coastal fisheries management and sustainable development.

  • Promote innovation and use of information communication technology (ICT) in the management, monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement (MCS&E) of coastal fisheries.

The overarching outcomes of the Roadmap are:

Empowered communities:

Communities are well equipped, connected and have the capacity to monitor, address, withstand and build adaptive capacity to any changing conditions. These changes may vary in terms of time and scale from acute, immediate and intense shocks, to slow shifts in the environment. Community self-sufficiency means dependence on development aid is reduced, in part by developing high level of local competence.

Effective and conducive coastal governance:

The governance of coastal zones, designated fisheries, fisheries resources and stocks are well attended to, coordinated and supported through CFD programs within the various units functioning at multiple scales with continuous support from international and national partners. The roles of civil society in the management, enforcement of rules and regulations and behaviour change activities are highly integrated and mainstreamed into governance frameworks, which provide for fora for inclusive design and decision-making processes.

Healthy and productive coastal fisheries:

Coastal ecosystems function optimally and provide important ecosystem services despite disturbance under climate change. Economically important species are thriving under responsible harvesting regimes. Resource users understand ecosystems dynamics, connectivity and feedback and recognize the impacts of different practices on coastal resources and ecosystems.

Vibrant, healthy, wealthy and responsible people:

Social, economic, political and physical living environments are conducive to maintaining the betterment of I-Kiribati wellbeing. Basic conditions of economic prosperity, security, sustainable food supply, stability and good health are attained through effective resource management (given the centrality of coastal resources in people’s lives in Kiribati). Across all levels and different scales, people develop a sense of stewardship for the ocean and actively participate in the management of their local fisheries resources for the benefits of all I-Kiribati.

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