Thursday, July 22, 2010

Spear Fishing News

The Marianas Variety reports that Guam is considering banning spear fishing, a non-traditional fishing technology introduced in recent decades:
HAGÅTÑA — While agreeing with the argument of the Guam Fisherman’s Cooperative that pollution poses a threat to the island’s marine resources, researchers at the University of Guam’s Marine Lab maintain that scuba spear-fishing contributes to the decline in local fish stock.

Brett Taylor, a research associate with the Marine Lab, said the scientific evidence speaks for itself.

After collecting years of empirical data, Taylor argued that the older, larger species of the atuhong, or humphead parrot fish and the tanguisson, or humphead wrasse, are disappearing in large quantities because of scuba spear-fishing.

Manny Duenas*, president of the Fisherman’s Coop, opposes Bill 397, which seeks to ban spear-fishing on Guam, arguing that this fishing method is not the cause of the dwindling fish stock within Guam’s oceans.

Taylor, however, said a study conducted by the Marine Lab showed the average age of fish on Guam has declined over the years, specifically those located in non-preserved areas that are commonly fished around Guam.

According to data collected by UOG’s Marine Lab and the Guam Department of Agriculture, “without eggs from the larger fish, these particular species are on the verge of being extinct in local Guam waters because they sleep in the open area and are easier to catch while using scuba.”

These types of fish take many years to reproduce, UOG researchers said.

A 2008 study on the status of the coral reef ecosystems of Guam showed that while there are many factors involved in the decline of fish population, fisheries impact is certainly a major contributor.

Scuba spear-fishing seems to be detrimental because it reduces the number of fish eggs released every year because the method targets large fish that are easy to catch while they sleep.

Data which has tracked fishing patterns on Guam since 1985 attributes 85 percent of the recorded atuhong and tanguisson catch to fishermen using scuba.

Taylor said the Marine Lab is not necessarily against spear-fishing in general. “Under no circumstance are we saying that fishing is bad. Subsistence fishing is a wonderful thing, but when you commercialize a dynamic fishery, like a coral reef fishery, it can be extremely detrimental to fish stock,” he said.

Alexander Kerr, associate professor at the Marine Lab, said reef fish are important to Guam because without such, there would be no fish to consume algae that smother young corals, which in turn could cause reefs to die.
I have not read the language of this bil, but I would hope that it makes exceptions for spear fishing that passes down cultural and traditional fishing practices. I am assuming that Chamorros traditionally used spears for fishing, but I do not know specifically how. I think that this traditional fishing should be explored and included in this bill.

For the record, chumming the ocean for days and then using long fins and high powered spear guns to catch fish is not cultural or traditional.

*This is the same Manny Duenas who accused James Connaughton, a Jew, of being a Nazi. He also called me a coconut brained idiot (an idiot who is brown on the outside and white on the inside). Name calling is the last (or first) resort of someone who cannot win an argument by wit.

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