A total of six officers: Sione Mailau, Poasi Ngaluafe, Vea Kava and Talaofa Loto’ahea from the Department of Fisheries and Senituli Finau, and Samuela Pakileata from the Environment Department were trained on the standardised SPC invertebrate resource survey methodologies.

 

During the two-week training course, the officers attended classroom and practical training on five suitable invertebrate survey protocols. Sea cucumbers and trochus were the target resources, but the invertebrate survey protocols covered all invertebrates including indicator species and their habitat condition. This is important for the Environment Department officers, who are particularly interested in biodiversity conservation.

 

An indoor session was conducted through PowerPoint presentations to introduce the methods and the objective of the training. Issues covered in the classroom session include:

 

-          SPC standardised invertebrate survey techniques;

-          species identification;

-          invertebrate size measurements;

-          specimen counts and observation;

-          habitat identification and estimation of composition;

-          data recording style and understanding the records;

-          checking and managing data in the field;

-          safety issues; and

-          planning and decision-making.

 

Much of the time was dedicated to field sessions on techniques including reef benthos transect, manta tow, reef front swims, shallow scuba dive for assessing trochus, and deep dive for assessing deep sea cucumbers.

 

In-water training began at Ovaka and Hunga Islands, where the trainer paired with each trainee one at a time to do shallow transects, working with them through habitat selection, placement of transect lines and replicates, species and habitat identification and recording style. At the end of each station, records were cross-checked to ensure consistency. For manta towing trainees took turns being towed and operating GPS receivers to record positions until they all had the chance to do both.

 

At Taunga, Euakafa Islands and the southern barrier, targeted trochus assessment training (shallow scuba, transects and timed swims) was conducted, as these were the release sites for juvenile trochus. By the end of the first week the trainees were able to do each station while Mr Pakoa concentrated on helping them improve their habitat record. During the second week, trainees made more decisions on daily work plans and selection of habitat for particular survey types, while they were reminded that planning has to be based on species and habitat priorities as well as available funding and risks involved. Species identification was a problem for most of the trainees, so the trainer simplified the exercises using the common names using, which was easier for the trainees. At the end of the second week, the team was competent in the different methodologies, and they agreed to stay on to complete the surveys in Vava’u.

 

The Fisheries Officers were using a standard 50 m x 8 m transect in deep and shallow water surveys, which does not provide good information on invertebrate resources. The training helped them better understand invertebrate surveys, which cannot be done effectively using a single transect method. The two Environment Officers only had experience in coral reef monitoring assessment using line intercept transects. Participating in the training was a big plus for them and their agency in biodiversity survey work.

 

The success of this training was made possible by support from Tonga’s Department of Fisheries, which provided the boat, engine, boat operator, a vehicle for transport and the workshop facilities in Vava’u. Financial support was provided by the European Union through the SciCOFish project.

 

 

For more information, please contact Kalo Pakoa, SPC Fisheries Scientist

 

 

Photo: Tonga Fisheries and Environment Officers: Sione Mailau, Poasi Ngaluafe, Senituli Finau, Vea Kava and Samuela Pakileata (Talaofa Lotoahe’a is not in the photo).

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 May 2011 16:16
 

 


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