Palau Bureau of Marine Resource, Palau National Marine Sanctuary Office, SPC, TNC, and the Northern Reef Fisheries Cooperative sponsored a Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) fishing training in Palau, from September 11 through 22 of this year. The training was led by BMR and SPC and focused on training fishermen on fishing techniques such as vertical long line to target tuna at these FAD’s.
William Sokimi from SPC conducted the training, with assistance the of Erbai Yukiwo and Roman Mongami from Palau Bureau of Marine Resources, David Itano, TNC Consultant and Craig Heberer, TNC Indo-Pacific Tuna Program. The training had two parts. First part was held in the northern Babeldaod, at Ollei Port, targeting the Northern Reef Fisheries Cooperative members from Ngarchelong and Kayangel. The second part of the training was held in Koror, targeting fishermen from Koror. Close to 30 fishermen participated in both trainings. The trainings focused on showing fishermen (1) fishing theories/techniques and safety at sea, (2) rig vertical long line, and (3) deploying vertical long line around FAD’s and hauling in the line with fish. The practical part of the training took the fishermen out to the FAD’s early morning to deploy the vertical long lines around FAD’s in the west barrier reef off Ollei port and Ngardmau. The 4 days of practical fishing training brought in close to 400 lbs. of tuna.
The fishing training around FAD and development of a network of FAD in Palau is an effort to encourage fishermen to shift their fishing pressure from reef fish to tuna and other pelagic species. Studies have shown that reef fish population in Palau and elsewhere in the Pacific have continued to decline and posing both food security issue and ecological and biodiversity threat to coral reef ecosystem. It is well known that coral reefs are important ecosystem to Pacific islands as they provide a source of subsistence, commercial both fishing and tourism, and protection for coastal community. In Palau coral reef related tourism is the major source of revenue to Palau’s economy. If reef fish population continues to decline it poses a huge risk to Palau economy as well as food security for Palauans. Tuna and other pelagic species are fisheries resources that Palauan fishermen can target for food as well as a source of income. Fishing outside of the reef is both expensive and pose a safety risk for small scale fishermen, and these training opportunities as well as other effort are creating incentives and the skills necessary for these fishermen to target tuna and other pelagic species. These can help address Palau food security issues, provide for livelihood, improve coral reef conservation and management, and help Palau to implement the goals of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary. And above all, it will shift fishermen to target big fish and not reef fish with long lasting economic and conservation benefits to Palauans. [/restrict]