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article imageGreen Thumbs Up: Sustainable fishing and the Eco-tourism industry

By Karen Graham     Feb 29, 2016 in Environment
A multi-disciplinary team from James Cook University is working in Papua New Guinea to develop an eco-tourism industry around the Papuan Black Bass, one of the world's toughest sportsfish.
Healthy oceans, rivers and streams are necessary for life, the provision of food and good economic development, especially if you happen to be a small developing economy like Papua New Guinea.
Papua New Guinea is a very culturally and geographically diverse country of close to seven million people with over 40 percent of them living a self-sustainable natural lifestyle with no access to global capital. Enter the team of researchers from James Cook University with a most unusual plan that just might work.
The Papuan black bass, Lutjanus goldiei, is also known as the Niugini bass, pargo de Papua, vivaneau de Papua, and ikan merah. It is found in a small area that includes southern Papua New Guinea from the Port Moresby district to the Fly River.
The fish is actually a member of the snapper family of fish and is considered the world's toughest yet least-known freshwater fishes. This fish, resembling a cross between a grey snapper and a large-mouth bass can be found in large, snag infested jungle streams and tributaries and may occur in estuaries. According to the International Game Fish Association, this popular fish would be an excellent choice in forming the basis of a safari-angling industry.
The Papuan black bass can be found in a select area of Papua New Guinea. This man is fly fishing.
The Papuan black bass can be found in a select area of Papua New Guinea. This man is fly fishing.
Dennis Pat
Commercialising for the benefit of communities
The team focused on the country's West New Britain province, bringing in a diverse group, including researchers from the fields of fisheries science, ecosystem ecology, natural resource management, governance, tourism, economics, business management, and social science.
According to Science Newsline, JCU's Dr Ronnie Baker said the group's paper was a road-map to developing a sustainable eco-tourism industry. "It's the first paper on how sportfishing tourism can work in developing countries for the benefit of the people and see economic benefits go directly to undeveloped areas," he said.
Baker pointed out that in many places where there was a sportfishing potential, the sites were often in isolated areas where the local people still retained control over the land and resources. This in itself, presented both an opportunity and a challenge, as the team was soon to learn. "In these places, if the local people are not on board and won't benefit - it won't work," he said.
Caught this hard fighting Papuan Black Bass on the surface with a Sage Bass II Peacock rod coupled t...
Caught this hard fighting Papuan Black Bass on the surface with a Sage Bass II Peacock rod coupled to a Sage 4210 reel loaded with tropical WF10F. Maxxed out on our 30lb Boga.
Dennis Pat
Professor Marcus Sheaves, the project leader, said the first chore the team had was to find out everything that was known about the Papuan black bass, and the information available is rather sketchy. "Our ongoing project is providing the PNG government with the critical knowledge needed to sustainably manage and develop a sportfishery into the future," he said.
For Dr Amy Diedrich, the social science leader of the project, the key to making the project work was the amount of collaboration necessary between the multi-disciplinary groups. She says this is key to creating a sustainable eco-tourism industry using sportfishing and one that would provide an alternative livelihood while promoting conservation
The team is working in conjunction with the Papua New Guinea National Fisheries Authority (NFA) and is supported by the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). The project is expected to last about 10 years.
The study, "The conservation status of Niugini black bass: a world-renowned sport fish with an uncertain future," was published in the journal Fisheries Management and Ecology on February 2, 2016.
Green Thumbs Up is a weekly feature that looks into ways we can live more sustainable and environmentally-friendly lives. If you missed last week's Green Thumbs Up, please go HERE.
More about Papua new guinea, sustainable fishing, Ecotourism, Sportfishing, Developing countries
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