Posted by David Itano
25 May 2012
David Itano is a fisheries research associate with the Pelagic Fisheries Research Program at the University of Hawaii and is currently serving as a principal investigator during the western and central Pacific Ocean cruise of the ISSF #BycatchProject. He is currently onboard the Cape Finisterre, a 1500 GRT tuna purse seine tuna fishing vessel operating in the western Pacific.
This week we departed Pago in American Samoa to continue our research efforts into the identification and development of bycatch reduction techniques. These cruises, facilitated by ISSF and guided by a Scientific Advisory Committee of international fisheries experts, emphasize technology and the practical experience of fishermen to develop experiments that will provide hard data towards bycatch reduction. We have already gone a long way toward broadening our knowledge base and developing exciting ideas to foster sustainability of marine populations.
For the next 45 days or so, the Cape Finisterre’s crew and our team of researchers will operate under special Research Permits in the exclusive economic zones of the Cook Islands, Tokelau and Tuvalu, and may also work in the EEZs of Kiribati and the Solomon Islands. The vessel is also licensed to operate in these waters under international fishing agreement between the USA and the region and will operate under all conditions and Conservation and Management Measures of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. These zones are extremely important fishing grounds that provide a significant amount of the global tuna catch each year. John Crisci commands the Cape Finisterre assisted by Mike Tallarida, which is operated by TriMarine, and we’ll have an impressive group of folks aboard. Ferral Lasi from the Secretariat of the Pacific Commission will be in charge of onboard sampling of catch and bycatch as well as conducting high definition video trials for automated catch monitoring. Melanie Hutchinson is a PhD candidate at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology and during this cruise is in charge of shark related research. Jeff Muir from the Pelgaic Fisheries Research Program at the University of Hawaii is also on board, while Kevin Kisekup will serve as our WCPFC observer. As with the last cruise of the #BycatchProject in the Indian Ocean, we’ll also be testing out the video monitoring system developed by Archipelago. Elton Clodamur from the Marshall Islands will be leading that endeavor.
After months of planning, we’re anticipating a busy and productive cruise; along with the important research results it promises to provide. I’ll be sending blog updates from the open water periodically, and look forward to a productive, informative and interesting time.