Name: Marino Wichman
Country: Cook Islands
Describe your work at FAME?
I am working with the stock assessment and modelling section team of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems (FAME) division to progress work on purse seine effort creep. Catch and effort data collected from purse seine gear assists the monitoring of tuna stocks by providing the necessary data to evaluate trends and predicted behaviours of the stock. For example, measuring the composition of catch (species and size) will aid stock assessment scientists to evaluate important parameters such as recruitment and growth and correlate this to expected fishing mortality levels experienced in a particular fishing year.
With constant improvements to purse seine fishing operations in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO), fleet efficiencies through technological advancements and experience of crew have resulted in increased catchability over time. My programme investigates this phenomena as we try to further understand and quantify effort creep and its potential impacts on tropical tuna stocks and the fisheries targeting them. We have proposed a research plan with the WCPFC Tuna Commission Scientific Committee. It includes a work plan to better address effort creep in a manner that quantifies changes in effective effort in order to provide the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) with meaningful metrics to evaluate and adjust the vessel day schemes (VDS), as appropriate.
This research will help improve our understanding of changes in purse seine fleet dynamics to better inform fishery managers.
When you return to your country after the PIFP attachment, how do you plan to use what you learnt at FAME?
Being part of the FAME team that carries out these assessments has exposed me to the complexities of the work behind the scenes. It has improved my understanding on how to interpret the models, run fisheries analytical programs such as R. This will enable me to guide the Cook Islands fisheries management on decisions and advice to achieve the overall harvest strategy for the Pacific tunas. It is my aspiration to actively contribute in fishery forums to ensure that the interests of the Cook Islands are addressed. The experience through this attachment has improved my capability to do that.