Marianas Variety

Last updateSat, 19 May 2018 12pm

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    Sunday, May 20, 2018-7:22:47P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Healthy living and respect for the environment

FOR thousands of years, islanders lived in a place they call home and survived by living off the ocean and the land.

The people respected one another and their environment, especially the ocean which had deep ties with their culture. Villagers were happy to share the big catch of the day.

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Traditional fishing in Palau.  Photo by Gunther Deichman

Today as a result of new demands and activities, marine conservation has kicked in and there are rules and limitations on what and how much fish can be caught. In addition, because of the cash-based economy, fishermen care more about how much they’ll earn from their catch than what they can eat later.

Science, for its part, has found ways help to sustain the fish populations.

New research by staff scientist D. Ross Robertson of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute indicates that taking a single big fish has a bigger impact on the fish population than taking multiple small ones. 

“The realization that fecundity in marine fish is non-linear is important not only for managing commercial fish stocks to maintain and enhance their productivity, but also for understanding evolution and for managing invasive species such as lionfish, in which the big females seem to be concentrated in deep water,” Robertson said.

There is a need to reduce fishing pressure on large fish rather than smaller ones in order to maintain and replenish stocks, he added.

In 1993, Father Francis X. Hezel, one of Micronesia’s foremost historians and scholars, said fishing practices must not be determined simply by short-term opportunities (e.g., the high-dividend sashimi market in Japan), but by what will lead to the long-range development of a viable industry in the future.

Residents interviewed by this writer believe that traditional resource management and modern conservation methods could help ensure the sustainability of the marine environment.