HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 600: 25 January 2012

MMR to Boost its Artisanal Fishing Data Collection Program
Rakahanga based Fisheries Officer TuteruTaripo reported a whopping total of 86 tuna,which were caught by 4 boats on Monday(23rd January2012).Unfortunately artisanal catches like these often go unrecorded but the Ministry of Marine Resources (MMR) intends to improveon this situation.
Artisanal fishing is an essential part of the Pacific way of life, providing food security and employment opportunities stimulating economic activitiesin our small island communities. Since the year 2000 artisanal fishers throughout the Cook Islands have been providing information on their catches to MMR, however being that is it an unregulated fishery, data provision has been intermittent.The Cooks are not alone in this trend, it is Pacific wide.
Although there are over 2,000 records totalling 10,000 effort hours recorded the data is so patchy it is difficult todeduce seasonal trends and major factors that affect catches. The raw data also needs to be “raised” as well so that the true number of fishes caught can be assessed which will help MMR to evaluate the landed value of the artisanal fishery catches.In anattempt to rejuvenate and improve information from this fishery, the Ministry has introduced new regional data forms developed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Oceanic Fisheries Program. The logbooks were initially developed specifically for ocean based fishing activities; however MMR is taking a broader approach to its use and including catches from deep water and lagoon fishing activities. So far logbooks have been distributed to fishers on Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Palmerston, Manihiki and Rakahanga. Education and awareness programs are being implemented to ensure proper use of the forms. Maori translations of the forms will also accompany the logbooks.
Logbooks are being distributed in a phased approach to each of the Cook Islands, working in collaboration with the Cook Islands Fishers Association, Fishing Clubs and Fisheries Officers. The new logbooks are waterproof and feature a small boat safety checklist and safety messages on the front cover. Fishers are asked to fill out a new page for each area fished, thus if fishing activities are carried out in several locations the fisher would record the catch and effort by area. It is important to record catch data every time fishers carry out fishing activity to provide an accurate picture of catch rates and trends, this includes when the fisher catches no fish at all.
In support of the newly implemented artisanal logbooks, SPC have also provided MMR with a new database system TUFART. Pamela Maru the Data Manager for the Offshore Fisheries Division said that “the system has been installed and networked with in-housecapacity building training on data collection systemsfor outer islands and Rarotonga based fisheries officers.”
MMR intends to develop and implement incentive schemes to promote the recording and provision of this data. With the information gathered, MMR aims to produce annual catch and effort reports for distribution amongst the Cook Islands.
Those wanting more information on the artisanal data collection program should contact Ms Pamela Maru, at the MMR Office in Tutakimoa.

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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