New Biological Sampling Programs Will Enable Life History Research on Guam Bottomfish Stocks

As PIFSC expands the scope of its fish stock assessments across the Pacific Islands Region, the need for supporting biological data, and for programs to gather the data, is growing. In Guam, a program to collect bottomfish data for life history studies is emerging. During August, prospective biological samplers from Guam received training at the Fishermen's Cooperative in Tamuning. Helping to provide instruction in the Pacific Islands Bio-Sampling Workshop were several PIFSC staff, including Meagan Sundberg and Karen Underkoffler, Fisheries Associates employed by the University of Hawaii Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research. They were assisted by staff of the Fishermen's Co-op and the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Participants in the Pacific Islands Bio-sampling 
            Workshop learned best methods of collecting data for fish life history studies.
Participants in the Pacific Islands Bio-sampling Workshop learned best methods of collecting data for fish life history studies.

The aim of the workshop was to develop a bottomfish sampling program like the one PIFSC operates in Hawaii. Participants were trained in protocols for sampling, record keeping, and other facets of biological data collection used by Sundberg and Underkoffler at PIFSCā€™s Aiea Heights Research Facility. Instruction was also given i n methods of removing and storing gonads, otoliths, opercles, dorsal spines, muscle tissue and liver tissue; collection of fish length, weight and catch location data; and proper labeling techniques. After watching demonstrations of sampling methods using a specimen of onaga (Etelis coruscans), trainees were encouraged to practice the methods themselves in small groups.

Many participants were concerned that the sampling procedures would reduce the market value of processed fish, and discussed ways to modify procedures to accommodate the different situations at each island. They agreed that because not every sampling program will be able to purchase fish for collection of data it will be important to develop sampling techniques that are minimally invasive.