Deploying the Baited Remomte Underwater Video (BRUV) frame (c) Robert Irving

Deploying the Baited Remomte Underwater Video (BRUV) frame (c) Robert Irving

Supported by the UK Darwin Initiative, this project will produce a fully operational and sustainable marine management plan for the Pitcairn Islands. This is crucial to providing a secure future for the economic benefit of the Island community and protection of the unique marine biodiversity of the Pitcairn Islands. The timescale for this project is 2013-2017.

The UK and Pitcairn governments, supported by the Pitcairn Island Council, intend to develop more sustainable livelihoods and an economic growth strategy for the Island community. Tourism is currently the primary mainstay of the local economy, but other potential income sources, including an inshore fishery out to 12nm, are being assessed for their feasibility. However, more research is needed to monitor and evaluate fish catches over time in order to assess the sustainability of current or future management strategies.

A drummer fish (Kyphosus bigibbus) from Pitcairn's waters (c) Robert Irving

A drummer fish (Kyphosus bigibbus) from Pitcairn’s waters (c) Robert Irving

Faced with these challenges, in 2012 the Natural Resources Department of the Pitcairn Island Government worked with the University of Dundee, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), and Sea-Scope Marine Environmental Consultants to develop a funding application to the Darwin Initiative. The application was successful. The aims of this project have been to support the Pitcairn Government to make informed decisions that will lead to the sustainable use of their marine resources by:

1. Underpinning the scientific evidence-base;

2. Developing local capacity to undertake fisheries and environmental assessments;

3. Developing a marine management plan with the Pitcairn community and UK Government for fisheries and the marine reserve;

4. Enhancing tourism opportunities; and

5. Increasing public awareness of Pitcairn’s importance in meeting the UK’s biodiversity targets.

Analysing Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) files (c) Robert Irving

Analysing the Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) files (c) Robert Irving

In partnership with the Islands’ Tourism Department, the Museum, Pulau School and other members of the community, work is underway to support Pitcairn in enhancing tourism opportunities, as well as increasing awareness and interest in Pitcairn. ZSL have developed a plan of action with members of the community to prioritise areas where more support is needed to appeal to a wider range of tourists and provide an enhanced experience based on Pitcairn’s natural environment. The evaluation of current on-island activities, interpretation, resources and visitor feedback are currently priority tasks, as these will help to inform future development.