With the increased demand for reef fishes, we need very good information on the status of fish populations so we can track changes over time. PICRC researchers have designed a study to gain better knowledge about the status of commercially-valued reef fish stocks in Palau. The study will begin in mid-November and take several months to complete.
The design calls for surveys of 100 reef sites encompassing four reef habitats: fore reef, channels, patch reefs, and lagoonal fringing reefs. The sites for the surveys will cover the main islands of Palau, from Ngeruangel in the North all the way to Angaur in the south. At each of these sites, the research team will conduct 15 minutes surveys at 65 feet (deep sites) and 15 to 32 feet (shallow sites) using the stereo video technique.
The footage from the stereo video will be analyzed using specific computer software called Event Measure to calculate the exact sizes of observed fish. This new technique was already used during the two last fish stock assessments in the Northern Reef and provided very accurate information on the sizes of the fishes. The size of fish is a very important component to fisheries management as it tells us about the sexual maturity of different fish species and if populations are able to be sustained over time.
The purpose of this survey is to assess the current commercially important fish stocks, including maml and kemedukl. This information will help in understanding whether or not the pressure from the growing local seafood demand has a strong impact on Palau reef fish stocks and the status of maml and kemedukl populations around Palau. The results of the survey can be used to guide management decisions about utilization and protection of reef fishes. [/restrict]