Cease or prohibit customary fishing (indigenous fishing for cultural and community needs)
Overall effectiveness category Awaiting assessment
Number of studies: 1
Background information and definitions
Customary fishing applies to indigenous communities with a traditional connection to the area being fished and is for subsistence and cultural purposes. Customary fishing may have different fishing rules to commercial or recreational fishing; however, the sustainability of fish stocks is still a priority of customary fishing arrangements. In general, the community leader(s) have the responsibility of maintaining the local fishing laws and decisions may be made for cultural or religious reasons as well as in response to changes in fish catches. For example, closures of areas to fishing might be implemented if fish catches are perceived to decrease in the hope that fish might migrate into the fishing grounds whilst maintaining a good population nearby. Measures might be temporary (less than one year) or permanent (more than one year).
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A site comparison study in 2008 at two reefs in the Bismark Sea, Papua New Guinea (Feary et al. 2010) found that permanent closure of areas regulated by traditional fishing rights (customary fishing) resulted in greater abundance of only one of seven species compared to fished areas after eight years, and the flight response of six species decreased. Striated surgeonfish Ctenochaetus striatus were more abundant inside closed areas compared to fished areas (closed: 47, open: 25 fish/1,000 m2), but abundances of the other six species (orange-lined triggerfish Balistapus undulatus, Bleeker’s parrotfish Chlorurus bleekeri, daisy parrotfish Chlorurus sordidus, yellowbarred parrotfish Scarus dimidiatus, dusky parrotfish Scarus niger, and humpback red snapper Lutjanus gibbus) were similar (inside: 1–31, outside: 1–14 fish/1,000 m2). In addition, flight response of all but one species (humpback red snapper) inside the closure area was shorter (closed: 131–365 cm, open: 207–551 cm) making them more vulnerable to capture by spear guns (range 1.3 to 3.1 m). Fish were surveyed on reefs off Karkar Island inside and outside one site (0.5 km2) that at the time of the study had been closed to customary fishing (using spear guns and hand lines as primary gear types) for 8 years, with the exception of a 2-week period during which it was opened to fishing for a ceremonial feast (details of when sampling took place were not reported). The community maintains a customary system of reef management where a portion of the reefs is closed for several years when the clan chiefs decide fish are staying out of the range of spear guns. Sampled reefs outside the closure area had not been closed to fishing. At five locations at each site, two, 50 × 5 m belt transects at 2–4 and 6–8 m depths were surveyed by underwater visual census. Fish flight distance was measured by placing weighted markers on a measuring tape at the start position of the fish and the final position after disturbance.Study and other actions tested