Data Summaries Highlight Progress in Bio-Sampling Program

The Commercial Fisheries Bio-Sampling (CFBS) Program was established by NMFS to provide vital biological data on fish stocks in the Western Pacific Region. The data improve our understanding of fish stocks in the Western Pacific Region, enable determinations of Annual Catch Limits (ACLs) by the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, and support various Council reporting requirements. Summaries of the bio-sampling data for each island territorial jurisdiction in the Pacific Islands Region have been prepared for inclusion in Archipelagic Plan Team Reports to the Council. The CFBS Program, begun in 2010, was a NMFS innovation to enhance data collection, primarily on insular fisheries. The Program adds scope to other territorial catch monitoring data collections like the creel survey time series, all coordinated by the Western Pacific Fisheries Information Network (WPacFIN). The CFBS staff, supported by the PIFSC Insular Fisheries Monitoring Program (IFMP), collected measurements of fish length and weight, along with biological samples, from fishermen and vendors in Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (based on Saipan), and American Samoa (based on Tutuila).

The methods used to gather CFBS data are generally the same in all three locales. However, variations in successes and challenges exist. On some islands, the program has been more successful reaching vendors and on others it has worked directly with some fishermen. Nevertheless, whether at sales locations or landing areas, all fish sampled by the CBFS are keyed to the species level and length and weight measurements taken. In addition, the CFBS provides comprehensive sampling of fish otoliths and gonads to support in-depth life history studies. This summary does not describe the laboratory portion of the work in which the biological samples are processed; that work is undertaken by the PIFSC Life History Program.

The catch, effort and length-frequency data collected by the CFBS can be used in stock assessment. Once a large sample of weight-length data is available for a given species, the program uses length-weight relationships to estimate the weight for subsequent samples of fish that are only measured, so that samplers are able to speed up the sampling process. The goal is to get the most complete sample of length-frequency, catch, and effort data by trip, while minimizing processing time, thus reducing the inconvenience to the fishermen and the markets while providing them with valuable data, and encouraging their continued participation in the program.

A summary of the CFBS data for each of the island jurisdictions (2010-2013) is provided in Tables 1-3. The sampling program provides a detailed estimate of catch by species, for trips sampled. Vendor selection preferences can affect which species are brought to a given market. Individual fishermen's catch may reflect unique traits based on individual fishing habits (areas fished, etc.). Not every fishery is sampled and the areas fished on a given sampling day affect the variety of species found. These sources of variation create familiar issues with respect to the use of sampled data to represent the larger fishery, as is also the case with the creel surveys. The CFBS has an advantage in sampling some fishery sectors such as spear fishing that are poorly covered by the more structured creel surveys, in spite of the creel surveys more structured attempt to provide representative sampling for purposes of expansion. One concern is to ensure that the catch estimated from CFBS data collected at the vendor and fishermen level does not overlap with (and thus double count) catch estimated from creel survey and vendor reporting programs undertaken by WPacFIN. The IFMP is working on determining the extent of overlap in order to improve total catch estimates. It will be challenging to incorporate subsectors of commercial fisheries that are better reached by this relatively new monitoring program into expanded estimates from the creel surveys to produce more comprehensive estimates of overall catch. Approaches for integrating the two data sources are being explored. However, compared to the creel surveys the CFBS data is a short time series that cannot supplant the longer (i.e. creel survey) time series for some important applications.

In summary, for selected fisheries in each area where it is being conducted the CFBS is providing length, weight, and life history samples for accurately identified fish.

Table 1. Summary of bio-sampling data for Tutuila, American Samoa.
Summary of Regional Commercial Fisheries Biosampling Data: 2010-2013
  Island Area = Tutuila, American Samoa
Parameters 2010 2011 2012 2013
Fishermen-Trips 14 205 667 619
Gears/Methods 1 3 4 3
Method(s) Spearing (Snorkel) Spearing, Atule-Mixed, Bottomfishing Spearing, Bottomfishing, Trolling, Atule-Mix Spearing, Bottomfishing, Trolling
Number of Species Sampled 53 185 243 212
% Sample/Weighed Individually (% number fish) 88% 56% 44% 37%
Weight Sampled (Lbs) 620 11,350 32,665 29,763
Total Weight Estimated (Lbs) 700 15,304 47,953 48,092
% Sampled/Estimated by Weight 88% 74% 68% 62%
Estimated Lbs. Top 10 Species Sampled (list includes any species that made it into the top 10 during any of the 4 years)
Acanthurus lineatus 274 3,944 12,382 13,662
Naso lituratus 35 372 1,238 1,547
Sargocentron tiere 18 286 766 541
Scarus oviceps 36 495 704 494
Lutjanus Kasmira 0 288 666 1,270
Lethrinus rubrioperculatus 0 508 1,384 1,479
Myripristis berndti 16 160 350 261
Chlorus japanensis 32 573 2,096 1,457
Ctenochaetus striatus 11 266 1,038 1,027
Scarus rubroviolaceus 64 1,417 3,076 2,648
Acanthurus nigricans 9 139 271 369
Naso unicornis 49 982 2,912 2,424
Panulirus sp. 0 389 1,653 93
Panulirus penicillatus 0 580 1,107 1,996
Table 2. Summary of bio-sampling data for Guam.
Summary of Regional Commercial Fisheries Biosampling Data: 2010-2013
  Island Area = Guam
Parameters 2010 2011 2012 2013
Fishermen-Trips 139 242 298 270
Gears/Methods 4 8 10 7
Method(s) Spearing (w/wo) SCUBA), Bottomfishing, Trolling, Gillnet Spearing (w/wo) SCUBA), Bottomfishing, Trolling, Talaya, Gillnet, Spin Casting, Hook/Line Spearing (w/wo) SCUBA), Bottomfishing, Trolling, Talaya, Gillnet, Spin Casting, Jigging, Surround, Hook/Line Spearing (w/wo) SCUBA), Bottomfishing, Trolling, Talaya, Gillnet, Hook/Line
Number of Species Sampled 145 182 178 169
% Sample/Weighed Individually (% number fish) 100% 100% 68% 60%
Weight Sampled (Lbs) 4,790 26,507 17,475 9,602
Total Weight Estimated (Lbs) 4,790 26,507 25,638 17,230
% Sampled/Estimated by Weight 100% 100% 68% 56%
Estimated Lbs. Top 10 Species Sampled (list includes any species that made it into the top 10 during any of the 4 years)
Naso unicornis 1,158 6,682 9,121 5,901
Naso lituratus 355 1,107 1,761 1,075
Hipposcarus longiceps 308 1,286 1,030 731
Scarus rubroviolaceus 229 942 339 252
Scarus altipinnis 193 1,066 999 444
Acanthurus lineatus 139 297 334 200
Lethrinus rubrioperculatus 109 560 394 327
Monotaxis grandoculis 99 643 659 381
Scarus schlegeli 87 335 252 267
Acanthurus nigricauda 70 549 274 157
Siganus argenteus 59 242 283 209
Epinephelus faciatus 42 167 188 268
Lethrinus obsoletus 20 99 110 157
Myripristis berndti 17 171 275 184
Siganus spinus 0.3 3 22 89
Table 3. Summary of bio-sampling data for Saipan and other CNMI locales.
Summary of Regional Commercial Fisheries Biosampling Data: 2011-2013 (only 2 samples during 2010)
  Island Area = Saipan (some landings from Rota & other banks)
Parameters 2011 2012 2013
Fishermen-Trips 528 524 699
Gears/Methods 3 4 5
Method(s) Spearing (Snorkel), Hook/Line, Bottomfishing (small amount) Spearing (Snorkel), Hook/Line, Bottomfishing, Atulai Spearing (Snorkel), Hook/Line, Bottomfishing, Atulai (increasing amount from 2012), Talaya
Number of Species Sampled 135 161 177
% Sample/Weighed Individually (% number fish) 92% 38% 33%
Weight Sampled (Lbs) 20,798 14,356 20,297
Total Weight Estimated (Lbs) 22,052 22,488 36,388
% Sampled/Estimated by Weight 94% 64% 56%
Estimated Lbs. Top 10 Species Sampled (list includes any species that made it into the top 10 during any of the 4 years)
Acanthrus lineatus 1,839 1,487 1,956
Naso lituratus 1,908 1,789 2,060
Siganus argenteus 1,069 592 1,395
Naso unicornis 2,550 1,448 2,877
Mulloidichthys flavolineatus 364 525 516
Parupeneus barberinus 601 547 838
Lethrinus atkinsoni 622 316 501
Scarus rubroviolaceus 1,905 1,192 2,760
Scarus ghobban 570 448 823
Chlorus sordidus 445 97 492
Siganus spinus 113 342 397
Lethrinus obsoletus 307 273 435
Selar crumenophthalmus 0 88 1,498
Panulirus penicillatus 157 0 1,452