This article draws on anthropological research and long-term observation of regional fisheries to examine sociocultural and resource management dimensions of small-scale and traditional fishing operations in American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Ethnographic and survey research were undertaken in both archipelagos with the principal objective of describing and analyzing the nature and extent of traditional and customary fishing activities and associated seafood distribution practices. The resulting description and analysis focus on factors that trigger fishing effort and facilitate distribution of seafood in extended family and community settings across the study regions. Research findings indicate the ongoing importance of seafood in dietary terms and in terms of social organization and cultural continuity; these are discussed in relation to two ongoing resource management issues in the western Pacific.
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Vol. 67 • No. 3