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By Moffat Mamu

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Sept. 5) - An Australian marine researcher claims that Solomon Islands is experiencing depletion in fish stock in parts of the country.

The researcher, Mr. John Fairfax said fish depletion is affecting Solomon Islands due to over fishing.

Fairfax, who was in the country to conduct the research, highlighted this in a report presented to Minister of Finance Bartholomew Ulufa’alu last week.

He said there is already initial evidence that indicated the collapse of fish stocks.

One of this, Fairfax said, was the collapse of the subsistence barter trade economy, which now resulted in increased hardship, and poverty, causing impact on the fledging SI monetary economy that essentially collapsed.

"Evidence of serious and general fish depletion is not difficult to find. A professional fisherman in an outboard motor has to travel longer distances to find and catch fish," the Australian researcher said.

He said in Malaita people from the coastal villages could catch 60 fish in an hour in 1982, but today they could only catch one fish within that same time.

"We are experiencing fish depletion - linked malnutrition," Fairfax said.

The marine researcher said local fish on the Honiara coast had been eaten out.

"Fish no longer live or pass the area in any available abundance or frequency.

"Cost of fuel to travel long distance to locate and catch dwindling supply elsewhere is adding to the cost of adequate fish that is already unaffordable to sustain protein needs of the majority of families and individuals," he said.

As such the Australian, who had visited parts of the country, recently said something must be done to ease the problem considering the situation that country is going through economically.

Locals have also agreed with the findings by Fairfax.

John Utukana, Chief Willie Lianga and Tommy Kamda said fish stock in their area is depleting with the increasing population and the need to earn extra income for their families.

Therefore, it is a real problem for the rural population most especially fishermen who struggle to make a living.

They also agreed that something needs to be done about it.

September 6, 2006

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