Rapid social, economic and environmental changes in Papua New Guinea present new and complex problems for the country. With most people still living on their traditional lands, balancing the country’s need for development while preserving its rich natural and cultural heritage is one of its greatest challenges. The National Fisheries Authority of PNG and James Cook University, with support from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), have initiated a ground-breaking research initiative aimed at exploring sportsfishing as an alternative, sustainable livelihood for coastal communities in PNG. Working in close collaboration with local communities, the project brings together industry, government agencies, international research institutions and donors, to develop best practice guidelines for the growing recreational fishing and ecotourism industry. In the first project of its kind in the region, it offers a model for developing sportsfishing as a sustainable, collaborative industry that allows for socio-economic development and environmental protection while enabling people to preserve their ties to culture and their land and seas.