Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Hawaiian Fishermen, Scientists Cooperate on Sustainability Research

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Hawaiian Fishermen, Scientists Cooperate on Sustainability Research

Article excerpt

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Tuesday that it will be collaborating with fisherman in Hawaii to research the health and size of several native fish species's populations.

The research will focus on seven species of Hawaii's deep-water bottom-dwelling fish, which include six species of snapper and one species of grouper. These big red fish, particularly the Onaga and the Opakapaka, are commonly eaten across Hawaii, and the data from this study will inform sustainable fishing practices that, hopefully, will allow these fish to remain in the cultural diet for years to come.

"Our current stock assessment shows that [the Hawaii deep seven] are not over fished and they are not experiencing over fishing," Benjamin Richard, a NOAA marine biologist who is leading the research, tells The Christian Science Monitor. "Part of our role is to collect the best scientific information so that we can help to ensure that that continues."

All commercial fisheries are required to record how many fish they catch and sell. The data is used by the state, and agencies such as NOAA's Pacific Islands Regional Office and the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, to inform the annual catch limit. But this study aims to improve upon those methods.

"We are starting this study to augment that data stream to get, what we call, a fisheries independent abundance estimate ... to provide those agencies with the best scientific information possible so that they can make the best decisions to help ensure sustainable fisheries," Dr. Richards tells the Monitor.

This study will combine data from NOAA scientists and six commercial fishermen - who have been trained in a standardized fishing methods for the sake of this research - to achieve an accurate fish count. The fishermen are already out at sea, and the scientists will join them later this month with deep sea cameras, which will sink to the bottom of the ocean to record the fish in the area.

Together the fishermen and NOAA scientists will be surveying the waters across all the main eight Hawaiian islands, from Niihau to the Big Island, according to Richards. …

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