A team of three (3) officials, assembled by the Tourism Authority of Kiribati (TAK), conducted their second fly-fishing exploratory assessment in Abemama on the 5th to 15th May 2020. The team’s main task was to undertake a follow-up assessment of the initial exploratory assessment conducted back in 2018. This assessment is to conclude whether Abemama is qualified to be developed as a game-fishing destination or requires more time.
The assessment was conducted within eight days, with only a few tailings of bonefish in the shallows which indicated that bonefish was threatened as a result of heavy fishing and over-exploitation. The team was also able to scout the lagoon areas from the sky with the aid of an aerial drone, but there were no bonefish schools spotted. This issue seems to be unpromising for Abemama, regarding ecotourism development and fly-fishing tourism.
Bonefish on the island is scarce due to heavy netting pressure affecting the fish stock, making it hard to sight the bonefish as compared to the flats on Kiritimati and Fanning in the Line Islands. The team recommended future development at Abemama, involving regeneration and protection of the bonefish stock through appropriate bye-laws, during aggregation and spawn seasons, not just for bonefish but for other marine finfish as well. Establishing marine protected areas were also encouraged but these initiatives lie within the various community leaders and the Island Council.
Due to flight issues, the team extended their trip and was able to conduct consultation sessions, with Abemama Green Hotel, Chevalier College, Reina Village, Kiribati Uniting Church at Tabiang, Island Council Piggery Farm, Uarokoan te Kabwaia Incorporate Society from Tebanga Village, and Mwanoku Catholic Seminary, promoting Agritourism. This consultation aimed to improve food-security, and linking agriculture with local accommodation providers in using agriculture into business, landscape, and the beautification of the marine and land environments thus enhancing food security in the context of climate change.
Although the fly fishery assessment was not quite a success, the consultation of the Agritourism program was much more promising for Abemama Island.
The trip was supported by the Food Security Project, commonly known as the LDCF-1 which is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the UNDP and managed by the Environment and Conservation Division (ECD) under the MELAD.
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