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Refugia and SEAFDEC
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Training Programme

Training programme on Larval Fish Identification and Early Life-History Science


SEAFDEC are currently utilising M.V. SEAFDEC 2 for the conduct of fisheries resources assessment surveys. A total of 20 cruises have been conducted using this vessel since 2004, and larval fish have been and continue to be sampled using a bongo net at all survey sites. M.V. SEAFDEC 2 has recently conducted work in the Gulf of Thailand, including Cambodian waters, waters adjacent to West Kalimantan Province in Indonesia, the Sulu Sea in the Philippines, and the east coast of Viet Nam. Larval fish samples collected during these cruises will form a critical part in any future development of a regional system of fisheries refugia.

To date very few of these larval fish samples have been processed due to a shortage of technical expertise in the participating countries regarding the sorting and identification of larval fish. In recognition of this the Regional Scientific and Technical Committee approved a regional training course and national “echo” seminars on larval fish identification and early-life history science as part of the SCS Training Programme. It is aimed that these training activities will result in the establishment of fish larvae identification teams in each country with the responsibility for the processing of samples collected during M.V. SEAFDEC 2 cruises. The initial desired content for this course includes:

  • Methods for larval fish sampling and surveys,
  • Methods for identifying larval and juvenile fish,
  • Preparation of larval fish identification sheets/manuals for key species,
  • Building national-level capacity for the processing of larval fish samples and the identification of larval fish, and
  • Standardising the methodology for fish early life history research in Southeast Asia.

Discussions during the Seventh Meeting of the Regional Working Group on Fisheries

The Seventh Meeting of the Regional Working Group on Fisheries (RWG-F) reviewed the training programme as developed by the RSTC and made comment regarding appropriate course participants, possible implementing entities, and how materials developed by the RWG-F could be utilised in training activities. It was agreed that depending on each countries individual needs, the training should be targeted at technical personnel in specialised executing agencies or research institutions. It was further agreed that where possible, preference should be given to junior scientists in the fisheries departments with responsibility for larval identification.

It was also agreed during the Seventh Meeting that the training should be linked with the national programmes of SEAFDEC cruises that involved the collection of eggs and larvae, and that a key output of the activity should be egg and larval fish identification sheets for use in laboratories and at sea. In terms of identification of possible implementing entities, the group was unanimous in agreeing that the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center was the most qualified and well equipped organisation in the region to act as an Executing Agency for the conduct of the course.

Discussions during the Eighth Meeting of the Regional Working Group on Fisheries

An important task for the Eighth Meeting of the RWG-F was to provide feedback and advice to SEAFDEC regarding the implementation of this training course. Dr. Somboon of SEAFDEC noted that he had prepared a draft syllabus for the training course, prepared an inventory and costing of all required materials, and had made contact with several experts, including SEAFDEC’s larval fish expert, Dr. Konishi, regarding their interest in acting as course instructors. The draft syllabus was presented by Dr. Somboon and amended as it appears below:

Preliminary Syllabus for the Training Course on Larval Fish Identification and Early Life-History Science

1    Introduction to Ichthyoplankton (2 days)

  • Use of ichthyoplankton (fish eggs and larvae) surveys for fisheries resources research
  • Case studies (examples of how fish larvae information can be used to guide management)
  • Morphology of fish (squid) eggs, larvae, and juveniles
  • General morphology of eggs
  • Developmental stages of eggs
  • General morphology of larvae (juvenile)
  • Developmental stages of larvae (juvenile)

2    Sampling gears (1 days)

  • Various types of gears
  • Net properties
  • Conducting ichthyoplankton surveys using a bongo net, small-scale fishing gears
  • Design and implementation of a larval fish survey plan

3    Fishing/Research Vessel Based Training Activities (3 days)

  • Calibration of flow meter
  • Net towing procedures and towing data record
  • Preservation of sampled planktons
  • Labelling of sample containers
  • Recording supplementary environmental and oceanographic data: water temperature, salinity and current

4    Laboratory Based Training Activities (3 days)

  • Sorting of eggs, larvae and juveniles
  • Identification (counts and measurements) of sorted eggs, larvae and juveniles
  • Bottling, storing and crating of identified samples
  • Data summarisation and standardisation
  • GIS based mapping of egg and larval distribution

5    Core Competences to be Evaluated (1 day)

  • Sorting of eggs and larvae
  • Identification of eggs and larvae

Conduct of National “Echo” Seminars

It was agreed during the meeting that the activities of the National “Echo” Seminar component of the training course should be conducted in relation to the implementation of pilot fisheries refugiasite activities. It was further suggested that, where possible, commonly used small-scale fishing gears should be used when demonstrating the collection of fish larvae in areas of the pilot fisheries refugiasites. This recommendation was based on the group’s recognition of the need to involved local fishing communities in the establishment and monitoring of the fisheries refugia site.

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