It’s often said that you can’t manage what you cannot measure. When it comes to fisheries, this is no different. Essentially, this means that access to robust, up-to-date data is essential for fisheries management to be effective. As such, a team of four young portside enumerators are hard at work in the port of Bitung, Sulawesi. They are collecting data in support of the Indonesian yellowfin tuna handline fisheries that are progressing nicely towards Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification – aiming for the full assessment to start before the end of this year. The team is made up of two supervisors from Asosiasi Perikanan Pole & Line dan Hand Line Indonesia (AP2HI), and four graduates from the Politeknik Perikanan Bitung - Reflandi, Indah, Isnaini and Bura. The data gathering programme, developed by IPNLF and AP2HI, ensures that the enumerators accumulate catch-by-catch information on the volume of tuna landed, as well as details of any other species caught as by-catch.
The work is carried out at the Bitung port where one-by-one tuna catches are being sampled. This sampling programme helps to generate the data necessary to measure the impact of these particular fishing activities. Information on each vessel and fishing trip, type of vessel and registration, as well as details on the captain, crew numbers, and how long they were out at sea are also collected.
The enumerators carry out their work mostly in the public port in Bitung, but also visit the private jetties owned by AP2HI members as required. As the sampling programme has developed, their data gathering protocols have been strengthened. For example, they now have more comprehensive species identification guides, which will help them to accurately expand their scope to include shark and billfish species.
This port sampling work is particularly important for the handline fisheries sector, which comprises a large variety of vessel sizes – from below 1 GT up to 30 GT. The small size of these vessels often prohibit the deployment of human observers to sample catches. Before IPNLF, AP2HI and their partners embarked on this sampling programme there was a lot of uncertainty about the catch and effort data available for vessels under 10 GT. A key focus area was to ensure that all vessels within the Units of Assessment (UoAs) for MSC certification are on a vessel registry and that as much data as possible is collected from these small-scale fishing operations. The data on catches and fishing effort collected by the enumerators are then provided to local fishing authorities to inform their decision-making processes.