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The Oceanic Fisheries Programme

The Oceanic Fisheries Programme (OFP) is part of the Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems (FAME) Division of SPC, and is the Pacific Community’s regional centre for tuna fisheries research, fishery monitoring, stock assessment and data management. It was established by the 1980 South Pacific Conference (as the Tuna and Billfish Assessment Programme) to continue and expand the work initiated by its predecessor project, the Skipjack Survey and Assessment Programme.

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Purse-seine fish ID cards for Pacific Islands Regional Fisheries Observers (PIRFO)

These identification cards have been produced to help with the identification of fish species encountered by Fisheries Observers while onboard commercial tuna purse seiners that fish in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO). The species included in these cards are the ones commonly recorded by observers on tuna purse seine vessels operating in the WCPO. The cards can be easily accessed by observers while working on deck during net hauling and brailing operations to verify and correctly identify fish species. The cards also assist in training observers operating within the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Convention Area.

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Four years of data to enhance our knowledge on bigeye tuna

FishPredominantly west-to-east movements and geographical concentration – the Equatorial Pacific bigeye tuna’s behaviour is gradually revealing its secrets. This and other findings have been reported in a new scientific paper authored by scientists from SPC and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, published recently in the journal Fisheries Research.

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Tuna tissue bank for ecosystem management in the Pacific

FishSince 2001, SPC’s Oceanic Fisheries Programme (OFP) has been coordinating the collection of biological samples of pelagic species from all over the Pacific Islands region on behalf of its member countries.

Initially, this collection was focussed on stomach, muscle and liver samples to understand the trophic structure of the pelagic ecosystem (i.e. who eats who, where, and when); however, this has expanded to include gonads (reproductive organs), otoliths (ear bones), spines and blood, giving the opportunity to study reproduction, age, growth and contaminant concentrations.

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The best way to protect heavily depleted shark populations? Stop trying to catch them!

sheltonh2014_09_12-silky_shark_thumbFriday 12 September 2014, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Noumea, New Caledonia

It was previously thought that the two heavily depleted pelagic sharks in the Western and Central Pacific, the silky and the oceanic whitetip, were victims of unintended bycatch, but a startling new study from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) shows that sharks are actually being specifically targeted by some tuna longline boats operating in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

 

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Lack of Access to Data Frustates Scientists

Honiara fishing port in Solomon Islands (Credit: Malo Hosken, Copyright: Secretariat of the Pacific Community)A meeting of over 20 stock assessment scientists from the Asia–Pacific region last week heard that the scientific assessment of tunas in the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) continues to be hampered by some fishing states not making data available to scientists. Dr Shelton Harley, head of the Stock Assessment and Modelling team within the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Oceanic Fisheries Programme noted that ‘the most frustrating aspect is that the data have been collected and are just sitting on computers in countries and not contributing to the efforts to determine the health and safe harvest levels for the largest tuna resource in the world.

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NECTALIS

alis_smOFP-EMA team is embarking again on a new adventure: NECTALIS

NECTALIS is a contraction of NECTON which refers to the aquatic organisms able to actively swim in the water column (contrasted with plankton which passively drifts) and ALIS which is the name of the IRD (French Research Institute for Development) research boat based in Noumea, New Caledonia.

NECTALIS is a joint scientific cruise between SPC and IRD which will study the mid-trophic levels of the pelagic ecosystem: zooplankton and micronekton.

 

Nectalis 3 starting now: See the logbook of the cruise

 

See the logbook of the second cruise in November 2011....

See the logbook of the first cruise in August 2011....

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CP10 tagging cruise collaborates with ISSF and industry to do research on drifting fads

FishIn last August 2014, SPC fisheries scientist Bruno Leroy was in charge for this 25 day cruise that drove the Tongan FV Pacific Sunrise through the waters of American Samoa, Tokelau, Cook Islands and Kiribati-Phoenix Islands. The Central Pacific (CP) tuna tagging cruises were originally designed to tag tuna in areas where pole and line boats could not really work due to the scarcity of live baits and also to increase the releases of tagged bigeye tuna that are rarely caught in the surface fisheries in the western part of the Pacific.

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New fish species discovered in the waters of New Caledonia

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

FishWhile on a boat not far from Toombo Reef near Boulari Pass on 11 August 2014, Pierre and William Larue found a small silvery fish floating on the water.

The fish was first given to the IRD (French Institute of Research for Development) and then SPC took over the task of identifying this small hatchetfish from the Sternoptychidae family.

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Condition of bigeye tuna in the western and central Pacific worsening, skipjack and yellowfin healthy – new SPC assessments released

johnh2014_07_25_thumbFriday 25 July 2014, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) headquarters, Noumea, New Caledonia

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) this week released new assessments on the status of key regional tuna stocks – skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye tuna – which show that skipjack and yellowfin remain in a reasonably healthy state, but bigeye, the mainstay of the tropical longline fishery, has now been reduced to less than 20% of its unfished stock size. The assessments, along with over 40 scientific papers produced by SPC, are due to be presented at the 10th meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) Scientific Committee, being held in Majuro, Marshall Islands, in early August.

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SPC Fisheries Newsletter #143

The number of active tuna fisheries observers in the Pacific islands region has been well over 400 per year since 2010, and keeps increasing. This is a direct consequence of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission’s Conservation and Management Measure 2008–01, which prescribes 100% observer coverage of purse-seine vessels operating in the region. For an outside viewer it seems that all that needs to be done to achieve this goal is to hire people with a basic knowledge of what a fish looks like and send them on fishing cruises to record what they see. Piece of cake, right?

Not surprisingly, reality is quite different.

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