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NMFS-UH workshop eyes Pacific fisheries data.


Eleven fishery biologists from eight Pacific islands were in Honolulu to attend the Tropical Fisheries Resource Assessment Workshop, which ran 5-26 July 1989, announced George W. Boehlert, Director of the NMFS Southwest Fisheries Center's Honolulu Laboratory. The workshop was convened by NMFS and the University of Hawaii's School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, with funding provided by NMFS and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The workshop is part of a U. S. effort to aid Pacific island nations in assessing and managing their fisheries resources. Participants are from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kingdom of Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Western Samoa.

"The workshop has brought together the best data bases for deepwater snappers in the Pacific, " said Jeffrey J. Polovina, a fishery scientist with the Honolulu Laboratory and a coorganizer of the workshop, along with Richard S. Shomura, a UH researcher and former director of the Honolulu Laboratory.

Participants brought with them computer diskettes containing various types of data on the snapper fisheries in their countries. These data types include length, weight, number and species of snappers caught, as well as the amount of time spent fishing. Participants are learning data analysis techniques, many of which were developed by Honolulu Laboratory scientists over the past 5 years. One goal of the workshop was to obtain a Pacific-wide view of the potential for deepwater snapper fisheries, said Polovina.

"The snapper fisheries in some of the participating Pacific island nations are in the early stages of development, " Polovina noted. "This is an excellent opportunity to monitor the stages of exploitation and ensure that snapper stocks will not be overexploited and the fisheries will not be overcapitalized. "

Snappers captured by the Pacific island fishermen are sold to their local markets and, in some cases, exported to markets in Honolulu and the U. S. mainland. The increasing demand by these export markets has enabled the development and expansion of the Pacific island fisheries.

Another goal of the workshop was to predict what the maximum sustainable yield will be 5 years from now for the snapper fisheries of each Pacific island nation. (Maximum sustainable yield is how much fish can be captured each year without depleting the population.)

Workshop participants will draft reports on the condition of the snapper stocks, the maximum sustainable yield, and even how many boats should be allowed to participate in the snapper fisheries in their Pacific island nations. These reports will be given to their governments for use in managing snapper resources.

Participants are also learning various stock assessment methods and computer analysis techniques. They are participating in discussions on fishery management for snapper stocks as well as other marine species. Lectures on these topics were presented by Polovina, Shomura, Paul Dalzell from the South Pacific Commission in New Caledonia, and also other Honolulu Laboratory staff. The workshop provides participants with an opportunity to share problems related to their fisheries data collection programs. Techniques learned at the workshop will assist them in making any necessary modifications to ensure that the right kinds of fisheries data are being collected.

Interestingly, the data on bottomfish catches in the Pacific island nations participating in the workshop are generally more comprehensive that the State of Hawaii's. "Most Pacific island nations are in a much better position to manage their snapper resources than Hawaii, whose data collection is limited, " said Polovina. The State of Hawaii's fisheries data collection is hampered by the lack of data on recreational fishing. The state also does not know how much time commercial fishermen spend catching snappers particularly in the main Hawaiian Islands. These types of information are crucial to the effective management of fishery resources.
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Title Annotation:United States National Marine Fisheries Service; University of Hawaii
Publication:Marine Fisheries Review
Date:Sep 22, 1989
Previous Article:NMFS Southwest Fisheries Center marks 25th anniversary.
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