II. FISHERY RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT IN SAMOA
C. Policies and institutional arrangements
2. Sustainable supply issuesOver-harvesting of the inshore stock is regulated within the context of the Fisheries Regulations 1995 and by the newly introduced Village Fisheries Management Plans.
The Aus AID-supported Samoa Fisheries Extension and Training Project is one of the most innovative and successful in the Pacific region. It produced a series of information sheets (written in Samoan and English) intended for the Village Councils. The project began in 1995 and by 1996 was working with 30 villages. As of February 1997, 16 villages had created and approved fisheries management plans. The plans include bans on use of explosives and chemicals, a reserve area, recognition of size limits and other restrictions. The plans also provide for strict enforcement of the regulations.
The key to a successful village fisheries management plan is having the villagers develop it because they understand the issues and wish to protect their own fishery resources. If they have other motivations (expecting foreign aid or free goods and services) the project will not succeed.
The village fono must be determined to improve their own fishery resources, find their own solutions to the problems (with scientific advice from the Fisheries Division) and develop their own fisheries management plan.
Unless the village was sincerely interested, the extension agents did not continue the process after the initial meeting. As the program progressed and the sincere villages did set up proper fisheries management schemes, some of the villages, which were not interested at first, approached the Fisheries Division agents and asked if they could participate. After some 30 villages became involved in the program, other villages began approaching the Division rather than Fisheries Division officers approaching the villages.
The officers can provide scientific advice, training and other assistance to help people learn ways to protect the marine environment. The Division does not have money, boats and other things to give away. It does not do things for people but rather assists people to do things for themselves.
In helping villages to make the process their own, the extension officers do not provide answers or give instructions. They ask questions
What is the condition of your fisheries?
If the villagers report various problems the officer asks,
What do you think is causing the problem?
and later, after this is discussed,
What do you think might be done to solve the problem?
The project found that most village councils knew the answers to these
questions, sometimes better than the fishery agents did. By asking questions,
everyone learned and the villagers gained a feeling of ownership of the