New Manual Provides Guidance for Socioeconomic Assessments in the Pacific Islands

A new manual has been developed to help marine resource managers, researchers, and others in Pacific island communities understand important steps involved in socioeconomic monitoring (SEM) and assessment. The information gained in such assessments is helpful for resource management, policy making, development, and research.

Participants in the SEM Pasifika training in American Samoa determine objectives and indicators for their socioeconomic assessment.

The manual, prepared with the help of Arielle Levine, Social Research Project Manager in the PIFSC Fisheries Monitoring and Socioeconomics Division, was published by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme in fall 2008. Referred to as SEM-Pasifika: Socioeconomic Monitoring Guidelines for Coastal Managers in Pacific Island Countries, the new document draws on material contained in two other manuals — Socioeconomic Manual for Coral Reef Management, and How is your MPA doing? — and includes other material from the Locally Managed Marine Area Learning Framework and Socioeconomic Fisheries Surveys in the Pacific. Its contents are tailored to the Pacific Islands. The genesis of the manual was a workshop organized by the South Pacific Regional Economic Program and NOAA and convened to review existing socioeconomic monitoring projects in the Pacific.

The main purpose of the SEM-Pasifika program is to improve management of coastal and marine areas in the Pacific region. It can assist people in many communities of the region, including those who have used current monitoring methods and those lacking experience in socioeconomic assessment. In particular, it can help management and project staff, researchers, and other practitioners understand important steps involved in a socioeconomic assessment and enable them to conduct the monitoring.

The SEM-Pasifika project began in May 2008 with an international workshop in Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands. Eighteen trainees, including Levine and several other NOAA employees or contractors, attended from other parts of the region, including American Samoa, Hawaii, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Yap, and Republic of the Marshall Islands. The objectives of the workshop were to inform people from U.S. Pacific Island states, territories, and Freely Associated States with jurisdiction over coral reefs, enable them to serve as local experts for socioeconomic assessment and monitoring, and train them to undertake socioeconomic assessments of key Marine Protected Areas and other areas in their jurisdictions. The manual is currently being used to conduct training in American Samoa.

For more information contact: Arielle Levine