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Research and Monitoring Unit

The Research Unit is one of the units under the Fisheries Division that deals with all research activities in order to provide data on status of marine resource for the formulation of management measures. The unit is manned by five staffs including Senior Fisheries Officer (SFO), Fisheries Officer (FO), Senior Fisheries Assistant (SFA), Fisheries Assistant (FA), and a Handyman (HM) in which all the activities are coordinated by the SFO.

The main objective for the unit:

  1.  Provide data on current status of marine resources in order to formulate management plans for resources that are depleted or declined
  2. Provide technical supports and assistance to the communities that are planning to formulate their management plan for their marine resources
  3. Work in collaborate with other authorities such as Environmental Health, Environment and Conservation Division, Medical Lab, MPWU on monitoring of water (marine) quality and testing level of e.coli for shellfish.
  4. Disseminate information and promote awareness on ciguatera findings including sites, species, etc
  5. Establish locally managed areas for the long term conservation and management of marine resources
  6. Enhance food security through stock enhancement activities (‘te bun’ translocation)

Work focus:

The Research Unit mainly deals with fisheries surveys and monitoring activities that could provide data on status of marine environment and its resources in which such data could be used as an important tool for decision makers in formulating their management plans for the conservation and management of marine resources.

Current activities:

  1. Conducting creel survey for South Tarawa fishermen targeting reef fishers on a weekly basis
  2. Monitoring of water (marine) quality and shellfish (e.coli testing) for South Tarawa on a monthly basis
  3. Ciguatera monitoring for south Tarawa
  4. Demarcation for Nanikaai andTeaoraereke Marine Protected Area
  5. Coral reef ecosystem survey
  6. Monitoring of existing marine protected area in collaboration with Community Based Fisheries Management

New focus for the four year plan:

1. Capacity Building

  • there is a need to certify more staffs especially staffs that have no certificate in diving so that surveys which require SCUBA dive could be easily done. This is due to staff turnover as some staffs with good experience on such surveys will be retiring soon therefore new staffs/recruits should be trained.
  • in relate with training on Underwater Visual Census i.e counts of finfish underwater, this require more time for staffs to undergone the surveys to become experienced on identifying fish species (using scientific names), therefore training also required on this so that quality data produced.
  • Data analysis is also an issue therefore training of research staffs also required on this area.

2. Identifying ciguatera sites on South Tarawa and outer islands.

The survey will point out sites for ciguatera therefore could reduce the number of ciguatera cases if potential sites are identified.

3. Fisheries Surveys (ciguatera, coral monitoring, creel survey, UVC) on outer islands

Conducting surveys on outer islands will provide current status of marine resources for outer islands on which resources need to be managed and conserved therefore such data are of vital for formulation of management plans for outer island people and could be supportive to existing bye laws.

4. Establishing of Marine Protected Areas in South Tarawa and outer islands.

The fisheries division initiating this activity on South Tarawa (Nanikaai-Teaoraereke) where a Marine Protected Area should be establish in between this two villages (along Anderson causeway) based on the information obtained that it is a potential site for ‘te bun’ resource and since the stock is declining, it is vital to protect such areas. Extending this program to Outer Islands could be an important tool for conserving their resources but will be more effective if proposal comes from communities’ interest.

5. Replenishing ‘te bun’ at islands where the stock is depleted

‘te bun’ translocation will be carried out in islands where this resource is declining. Previously, there are islands that have been restocked on a trial basis; therefore this activity will also identify suitable or potential sites for restocking based on the status of trialed islands