Seven Tuvalu Fisheries Department (TFD) officers carried out one of the regular outer islands ‘Metronome’ trips during August. This trip was to the southern islands (Nukulaelae & Niulakita), to liaise with the Kaupule (island council) members and the communities and to carry out fisheries work programme activities. The team was away for one week, from 20-27 August 2017. The officers involved included 4 Coastal staff, 2 Oceanic staff and 1 from the Administration Section of the Department. The team spent 2-3 days on each island.
The Coastal team conducted refresher training on creel surveys with the Outer Island Data Collectors (OIDCs), as well as augmenting the data collected, and creating an additional dataset for comparison with the OIDC data. Information was also collected on Ciguatera Fish Poisoning cases, information needed for developing fisheries island profiles. Consultations with the Kaupule and the community centred on monitoring and management of coastal reef resources. This is the sixth Metronome trip since this type of monitoring was begun in 2016 and is part of an ongoing commitment by the coastal section as part of its annual work plans.
During the trip, 2 officers from the Oceanic Section conducted a workshop on vessel sightings. This is an issue often raised by the communities in the remote islands of Tuvalu, with people expressing concern that fishing vessels seem to be resulting in the loss of their marine resources. The community people of the visited islands pointed out that “the Tuvalu fisheries department should take cautious of fishing vessels within the Tuvalu EEZ, these fishing vessels are responsible for the decline of marine resources within our islands”.The southern islands community and Kaupule asked many questions, and views and issues regarding the management of coastal reef resources as well as on vessel sightings were discussed. There was also an addition of documents to the Fisheries library and archive collected from Nukulaelae Island. The visited islands were asked to report any fisheries-related events or activities on their islands to the TFD so they could be included in the website and newsletter.
The team encountered some difficult conditions during the trip with a tender boat almost capsizing when it was hit by a wave in the reef channel at Niulakita. The waters around that island are known to be rough, so the metronome trips can at times be difficult and staff need to be dedicated to ensuring food security for Tuvalu’s communities!
The final Metronome trip for 2017 to the northern islands will be run from the end of September. This trip, the Niutao, Nanumaga and Nanumea will focus on similar work on on-going monitoring and consultations as part of TDF’s commitment to ensuring fisheries issues are addressed on all islands of the country, and not just Funafuti.