In partnership with WWF, the John West Pacific Islands Conservation Project supports community-based fishing and micro-financing projects in Ghizo in the Solomon Islands and Madang in Papua New Guinea. The goal is to protect over-exploited reef ecosystems, create food security, boost local economies, and to diversity income streams for the community so they are not soley reliant on fishing. This will also provide greater business opportunities for local women.
These Pacific Island communities rely heavily on the ocean as their primary source of both protein and income. With overfishing occurring, the reefs and reef fish are under enormous pressure and fast growing populations are also putting increasing demands on overfished reefs.
WWF, together with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, is working with these communities to deploy small floating rafts anchored to the seafloor and close to shore, to attract different types of fish and move fishing away from the reef. Fishers can then quickly and easily catch enough fish to feed their families, with extra to sell at the markets and at the same time, reduce environmental damage to fragile reef areas.
The John West Pacific Islands Conservation Project also co-funds a scheme to help local people (especially women) develop the skills and capacity to establish small businesses that can take advantage of catching more fish and trading the surplus. To date, the progress of this scheme has been a great success with over 300 women, from seven community zones, participating in financial literacy training. As of November 2014, over 600 women have saved more than SBD 129,000.
John West is continuing its support of this project in partnership with WWF and the Australian Government to:
- support and build the capacity, expansion and sustainability of the micro-financing schemes in both Ghizo and Madang;
- support target communities in exploring commercial opportunities from the increased volumes of higher value fish;
- explore business opportunities, especially for women, from the micro-savings and revolving loan funds;
- maintain the ongoing fisheries and socio-economic monitoring programs; and
- continuing to develop, build capacity and apply rafter-related community-based fisheries co-management strategies.
Together, John West Australia, WWF and the Australian Government are working to protect reefs and local resources for the future, while ensuring the coastal communities of today can access a secure source of food and income.