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Selling of undersized fish rife in Honiara

MFMR officers Priscilla and Patrick demonstrating fish sizes during the awareness yesterday

CATCHING and selling of undersized fish in Honiara fish markets is high, it is reported.

Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) HapiFis Programme Communications and Awareness Officer, Priscilla Pitakaka highlighted this during a public awareness for fishermen at the Honiara Central Market yesterday.

This is an outcome of a four-year data collection undertaken by the MRMR HapiFis Team in Honiara and Gizo Fish Markets.

Ms Pitakaka stressed that too many small fish of varying species are being sold in the markets, consequently they have not had time to grow and breed.

This can be as a result of using undersized fishing nets and using destructive methods of fishing such as the use of dynamite.

“We sometimes catch and sell fish that are in the middle of breeding from spawning aggregations.

“If we continue to fish the small fish and fishing during the spawning and target the aggregation sites then that will leads to overfishing,” she said.

She explained that spawning aggregation is when a large number of fish gather together to spawn and produce fertilised eggs.

“These eggs hatch into larval stages that grew into juveniles and then into adults. As spawning aggregations often occur at the same time each year at the same sites, they are usually very predictable,” she said.

She highlighted that every type or species of fish has to reach a certain size and length before they are sexually mature.

“At that age or size they will able to mate and produce juvenile fish, and contribute to the fishery.

Ms Pitakaka warned fishermen that if they continue to catch too many fish which are not yet mature to reproduce to support the fishery, the numbers or stock of fish will get less over time.

“Catching too many fish means we are fishing so much that the fish cannot sustain their population. The fish then get fewer and fewer.

“This means no recruits to fill the fish stock and this will cause the fish species to decline or starting to finish.”

She stressed not enough fish to contribute into the fishery stock can lead to the declining of fishery.

“Different species enter their reproductive phases at different sizes, and it is critical that each species is allowed to grow to reach reproductive size before it is fished.”

She echoed that some fish species are vulnerable and recover more slowly, and fishermen must not catch them while they are still small and not reaching their maturity age.

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