Traditional fisheries stock assessment methods and fishery independent surveys are costly and time consuming exercises. However fishers trained in data collection and utilising other skills can reduce costs and improve fishery assessments and management. A data collection program was conducted by Australian and Indonesian scientists with small-scale Indonesian sea cucumber fishers to evaluate the approach and then capture its benefits. The data fishers recorded allowed for the first stock assessment of this trans-boundary fishery during its centuries-long existence at Scott Reef in north-western Australia. The program also included interviews with fishers capturing the social, economic, and demographic aspects of the fishery. Economic inputs to fishing were complemented by fishery revenue data voluntarily submitted when fishers returned to port and sold their catch. Catch data recorded by fishers demonstrated much higher abundances than estimates obtained using standard visual transect methods and accurately reflected the true catch composition. However, they also showed extreme rates of exploitation. Interviews revealed social and economic factors that would be important considerations if management interventions were made. The program’s approach and the time scientists spent on the fishers’ vessels were key ingredients to fishers’ participation and the utility of the results. Despite the program’s achievements the information generated has not led to improved management or had any direct benefits for the participants. Sustaining the program in the longer term requires that its value is better captured.
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 5, 2016
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