II. FISHERY RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT IN SAMOA
A. Development issues
1. Demand, supply and licensed exports/imports of fishery productsThere are three main types of fishery in Samoa:
Only a small proportion of fish is exported. Data on the subsistence and artisanal Samoa fish catch is limited, outdated and controversial, but the best estimate of subsistence catch is about 4600 tonnes (King 1990), about 4 times greater than the fish sold commercially for local consumption. Official records on catch and exports provided by FAO are shown in Figure 1. (Experts caution that these estimates are little better than educated guesses).
From the start of data collection records in 1975 until 1990 there was a dramatic decrease in reported fish catch. Direct observations of fish stocks by trained fisheries biologists, and anecdotal evidence from fishers, confirmed that the inshore reef fisheries were over-fished and that the coral reef habitats were severely stressed (FAO 1991).
Exporting fishery products is a minor industry compared with local consumption (see Figure 1). A commercial exporter (SAMPAC) exports deep water snappers, skipjack, yellowfin tuna, mangrove crabs, lobsters, clams and octopus. The recent introduction of longline fishing from the alia fishing boats (Figure 2) doubled the exports of offshore fish between 1995 and 1996.
Collection and compilation of fishery products exported for food was improved in early 1995 with the start of a certification system. The system requires the inspection of fishery export products to assure they comply with specified terms and conditions. Fisheries officials, after inspecting the fish, issue a Certification for Fishery Products for Export. Table 2 summarises records of fishery products exported during the March-June, 1995 period. Tuna accounted for 72 per cent of the total exports in volume and 66 per cent in value.
Table 2. Samoan government records of finfish products exported for
food in the 4 month period March-June 1995 (Bell 1996).
In 1994, Samoa licensed 37 Taiwanese Long Line Vessels to fish in their EEZ. They arrested six of these and fined them for non-compliance with the Terms and Conditions of the Licensing Agreement. The fines were high and the fishing companies could not pay them, so the Government banned them from Samoan waters and demanded that the Forum Fisheries Agency remove the vessels from their list of registered fishing vessels - thus banning them from fishing anywhere in the mid Pacific region. In 1995, only eight Taiwanese vessels reapplied for renewal of their licenses. The Government would not issue the licences for a one-year period, insisting on a six month licensing term. In the end, none of the Taiwanese vessels were licensed (Bell 1996).
The Government issued two fishing licences to Tropac Fisheries Co. in 1994 and renewed them in 1995. They also issued two other new fishing licences, making a total of four licences issued in the year at WS$4,000 per licence or a total of WS$16,000 (US$6,586).
In 1996, the United States Government paid Samoa about US$190,000 as its annual share of the funds divided equally between Forum Fisheries Agency members as part of the 1987 Treaty on Fisheries between the governments of certain Pacific Island Countries and the Government of the United States.
Aquarium fish exporters shipped WS$47,704 (US$19,635) worth of tropical fish.
The sea cucumber (beche-der-mer) fishery started in Samoa in late 1992. By mid 1993, five companies harvested, processed and exported sea cucumbers from Samoa to Chinese markets. By 1995, stocks of the more valuable species had declined and only three companies were able to keep fishing. Their exports, in 1995, were significant at WS$194,786 (US$80,175) (Bell 1996).
Imports of fishery products were negligible during the 1986 to 1993 period, ranging from 3 to 4 metric tonnes per year according to FAO statistics.
According to FAO (1993), and King (1989) the subsistence and village-scale fishery is the largest and most important fishing activity in Samoa. Data on subsistence fishing is difficult to obtain from the 330 scattered villages. A series of household surveys showed:
Distribution of catch