Fish stocks in many parts of the western Pacific are increasingly being subjected to a variety of environmental and human pressures. Resource managers are responding to the situation by limiting and allocating catch across the various fisheries. There is a corresponding need to appropriately classify fishers and fishing fleets to ensure that all sectors are fairly considered when catch allocation decisions are undertaken in the region. But discrete classification of small-scale fishing sectors is challenging because commercial, recreational, and food-gathering motives often overlap. Moreover, despite the known importance of small-scale fishing in the western Pacific, the manner and extent of such activities are not well understood or thoroughly documented. This paper seeks to elucidate the nature of subsistence or consumption-oriented fishing and its relationship to other forms of small-scale fishing activities in the region. A conceptual framework of potential utility for assessing the degree to which small-scale operations are moving toward or away from subsistence fishing is developed with the intent of optimizing the resource allocation decision-making process. The discussion is based on review of pertinent literature and on findings from research recently conducted in Hawai‘i and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
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Vol. 67 • No. 3