HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

Invertebrate Assessment Training
During the month of October the SPC will be assisting the MMR to conduct a sea cucumber stock assessment and invertebrate training program in Aitutaki.
Eight fisheries officers from the Ministry of Marine Resources have gathered at the Aitutaki Marine Research Station to participate in the program. These are Richard Story, Joe Katangi and Alice Mitchell from Aitutaki, Ngametua Atingakau from Mangaia, Toumiti Matangaro from Atiu, Taimana Matara from Penrhyn, Ngere George from Rarotonga and James Kora from Manihiki. The SPC invertebrate specialist Mr Kalo Pakoa is overseeing the training elements.
Recently there have been numerous enquiries by person interested to harvest the sea cucumber which commands high prices in the Asian market. Because the sea cucumbers are slow moving and easily spotted the fishery is vulnerable to overharvesting without proper harvest quota and management strategies in place.
The Minister of Marine Resources has issued a gazette advising that commercial harvesting of sea cucumber will be prohibited until the Ministry has completed stock assessments of the resource and developed a management plan for the fishery.
The program in Aitutaki will cover the commercially valuable types of invertebrates such as sea cucumber and trochus and will cover species identification, collecting and analysis of data and reporting. Some follow up training of MMR staffs is expected to take place at the SPC headquarters in Noumea.
The SPC Consultant, Kalo Pakoa states “the team and I will be regrouping in Rarotonga to discuss and plan a monitoring regime for Rarotonga as well as the rest of the Outer Islands”.
According to Kori Raumea, Inshore Director for MMR, “this is a timely training as data collecting could be included in the draft management plan for some of the potential invertebrates. It is also anticipated that the resources status for most of the Outer Islands will be known, once the staff complete their assessment.”
The MMR expect to compile a preliminary report on the status of invertebrate resources for Aitutaki in early November. This report will indicate sustainable harvest quotes sea cucumber. This would be used by MMR to assist the development of Management Plan which they will present to the Aitutaki Island Council. The training program will also enable MMR to conduct further resource surveys in other islands of the Cooks.
The MMR sea cucumber stock assessment and invertebrate training program will run from 15th to 22nd October.
MMR Release

Herald Issue 608 21 March
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- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

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