Training Workshop Supports Fisheries Biosampling Programs in American Samoa, Guam and CNMI

PIFSC has recently made significant strides in establishing coordinated fisheries biosampling programs across the Pacific Islands Region. The objectives of the programs are to collect data on species and size composition of the fish catch, including measurements of fish length and weight, and biological samples for life history studies. The biological data are essential for improving fish stock assessments and scientific advice to fishery managers.

Staff of the PIFSC Fisheries Research and Monitoring Division (FRMD) conducted an inaugural biosampling workshop in August 2009 in Guam. Since then, they have coordinated the development and implementation of biosampling programs in American Samoa, Guam, and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) with support from island fisheries agencies, contractors, and the fishing industry. Introductory training workshops were held in each area. Sampling methods are designed to meet the unique logistical challenges of data collection in these remote island areas.

Some of the participants in the October 2010 fish biosampling workshop at the PIFSC Aiea Research 
            Facility.
Some of the participants in the October 2010 fish biosampling workshop at the PIFSC Aiea Research Facility.

In October 2010, FRMD staff conducted a more intensive, followup workshop at the PIFSC Aiea Research Facility on Oahu to train biosamplers working in American Samoa, CNMI and Guam. Training was provided by FRMD staff David Hamm, Robert Humphreys, Bruce Mundy, and Eric Cruz, who also does biosampling duties in Guam. Besides Cruz, biosamplers attending the training included Peter Ruzevich, Tony Flores, and Mike Tenorio (Division of Fish & Wildlife, CNMI, Saipan); and Domingo Ochavillo, Tee-Jay Letalie, Auvaa Soonaolo, Poasa Tufaeono, and Alama Tua (Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources, American Samoa).

The objective of the Aiea workshop was to familiarize biosamplers with standard protocols for data collection, data recording and quality control, fish identification, biological measurements and tissue extraction. In the classroom, biosamplers received instruction and practice using digital voice recorders to efficiently record information on fish species, length and weight in the field. They also gained experience transcribing voice recorded data into pre-formatted computer data files. They completed laboratory exercises to become familiar with methods for measuring and weighing fish and identifying them to species. And they learned how to extract otoliths and gonads from a variety of reef fishes that might be encountered during field surveys in each island area. As the biosampling program becomes better established, transfer of skills learned during the training should result in further development of local capacity within each island region.

Biosamplers were taught several skills in the Aiea workshop, including how to extract gonads and 
            otoliths for life history studies. Biosamplers were taught several skills in the Aiea workshop, including how to extract gonads and 
            otoliths for life history studies.
Biosamplers were taught several skills in the Aiea workshop, including how to extract gonads and otoliths for life history studies.