Coastal village hooks more income with new approach to fishing

May 10, 2018

Small fish like this one here are being feed within Numuru village’s mangrove habitat. ©Nick, Turner/UNDP (PNG)

Madang, May 10, 2018 - In the tiny community of Numuru, home to about 70 people, gardens are abundant with sweet potato and greens.

These traditional agricultural crops and a large plantation of coconut trees have sustained the livelihood of this village in Papua New Guinea’s Madang province for many years.

Now a project being undertaken by local villager Alfred Masul has introduced a new income stream from an unlikely source: a newly rehabilitated mangrove habitat.

In the past six months Mr Masul has used the village’s native mangrove area and the adjacent Crown Prince Bay to ensure that there is a reduction in overfishing, and the community’s fish population is larger than ever before.

“I decided to preserve one side of the bay, by making it what we call tambu. What that means is that half of the bay is for fishing, while the other half is protected,” he explained.

“We start the fish in the mangrove area and have nets placed here to keep them from heading out to sea. In the mangrove area we feed them and wait until they reach a certain size, and then we release them into the ocean where we hope we can catch them,” Mr Masul added.

Given their proximity to the ocean, fishing has also provided a source of income for the community, but until now their fish stocks have always been relatively low. 

Mr Masul’s initiative is complementary to the community’s mangrove rehabilitation work via the ‘Enhancing the Adaptive Capacity of Communities to Climate Change Related Floods in the North Coast and Islands Region’ project.

The project is a collaboration between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in PNG and its Government partner the Climate Change Development Authority (CCDA), with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature in PNG implementing activities on the ground in Madang.

Working across three districts in Madang province: Madang, Sumkar and Bogia, 16 coastal communities have been provided technical training to replant mangroves along previously eroded coastline, as well as being provided awareness on the potential impacts that climate change will have on their environment.

The movement to address climate is part of a momentum that's building on a global scale. In 2015, UN Member states in 192 countries including PNG set targets around climate change by agreeing to address Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action by 2030.

Climate change is predicted to greatly affect the poorest people in the world, who are often hardest hit by weather catastrophes, desertification, and rising sea levels, but who have contributed the least to the problem of global warming.

In some parts of the world, climate change has already contributed to worsening food security, reduced the predictable availability of fresh water, and exacerbated the spread of disease and other threats to human health.

In PNG, UNDP and CCDA have led a Adaptation Fund improving education, awareness and human and institutional capacity on climate change adaptation and mitigation throughout PNG.

More information on UNDP’s work in PNG to combat the effects of climate change can be found here.

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