Marianas Variety

Last updateFri, 22 Nov 2019 12am

Headlines:

     

     

     

     

     

    Thursday, November 21, 2019-5:10:14A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

Font Size

Settings

DFW personnel trained by Hawaii biologist on how to determine fish maturity

DIVISION of Fish and Wildlife personnel have undergone a two-day training with visiting biologist Dr. Edward DeMartini of the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.

According to longtime resident and environmental consultant John Gourley, who also assists the DFW, the training is the first step for CNMI to develop data that they collected themselves using their own personnel.

The research and data gathering is under the Life History Program of the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center of the National Marine Fisheries Service of NOAA. The research focuses on local species harvested from CNMI waters which include deep water snapper/grouper and coral reef fish species.

The focus of the training was how to determine the maturity of fish species using their gonads.

Gonads are reproductive glands of fishes that produce sperm and eggs. The gonads are dissected from newly caught fish collected from local fish markets.

Edward DeMartini teaches Division of Fish and Wild life personnel how to determine fish maturity. Edward DeMartini teaches Division of Fish and Wild life personnel how to determine fish maturity.

Gourley noted that, by looking at the sperm and eggs of the gonads, one can determine the level of maturity of the fish.

The data gathered can then be used by management agencies like DFW, the local fisheries agency, when, for example, defining minimum lengths at which various reef fish species can be caught and kept or sold.

Data for each island territorial jurisdiction in the Pacific Region are being prepared for inclusion in Archipelagic Plan Team Reports for the Western Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Council and are being used to develop improved Annual Catch Limits.

According to Gourley and DeMartini, there is no laboratory on island that at present has the personnel and other resources to gather such data. Thus fishery agencies on island send their samples to Hawaii for the completion of the specimen preparation.

“We hope to build local capacity on island and be able to eliminate the expense of sending our samples to Hawaii,” he said.

Division of Fish and Wildlife personnel take notes during the presentation of visiting biologist Edward DeMartini.  Photos by Richelle Ann Agpoon-CabangDivision of Fish and Wildlife personnel take notes during the presentation of visiting biologist Edward DeMartini. Photos by Richelle Ann Agpoon-Cabang

In an interview, DeMartini said the National Marine Fisheries Service, NMFS, is more than happy to extend its help to DFW.

Asked what brought him here, he said “DFW is interested in building capacity locally so that people on island can do the science that is necessary to come up with improved input for management. It is a good point in time because we need to establish a scientific basis for setting minimum-size limits, if warranted.”

Although the training is just for two days, he noted that DFW personnel have shown exemplary skills and “they can do it.”

“The objective is to explain how things are done and basically show them how to examine histology slides of fish gonads so that they can estimate the body size at which they mature,” he said.

He added that determining the maturity of the fish is important in the data gathering because “you don’t want to set the size so large that you are penalizing fishermen and you don’t want to set it so small that you are capturing fish before they have a chance to spawn.”