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by David A. Ziemann, Ph.D, director, Oceanic Institute Fisheries & Environmental Sciences Department


The world is facing an alarming conflict in natural resource management: continuously increasing demand and declining supplies. At the Oceanic Institute the Fisheries and Environmental Sciences Department conducts research on coastal marine resource issues. The Hawai‘i Stock Management (HSM) Program is the main research program conducted. The HSM has two primary research objectives: stock enhancement research and research in support of ecologically based fisheries management for coastal fisheries. Both research objectives use ‘omilu (bluefin trevally Caranx melampygus) as the test species. Current research focuses on development of techniques to identify cultured fish after release; comparative studies of diets of wild ‘omilu and cultured ‘omilu after release; acoustic tracking to determine movement patterns and habitat use; beach seine surveys in juvenile habitats to examine seasonal, inter-annual and geographic variability in recruitment; and release experiments to examine the survival and growth of cultured ‘omilu released into natural juvenile habitats.

In August and September of 2006, a total of 2,830 juvenile ‘omilu (140-180 mm FL) were tagged with both coded wire tags (CWT) and visible implant elastomer (VIE) and released into Kaneohe Bay. The ‘omilu were divided into six equal lots and marked with unique CWT batch codes for each lot. Three of these lots were marked in both adipose eyelids with orange VIE and three lots with red VIE. Fish marked with orange VIE were released directly from a transport tank into Kane‘ohe Bay. Fish marked with red VIE were held at the release site in a floating net pen for 48 hours prior to release. This 48 hour acclimation period may increase survival by allowing fish to (1) recover from handling and transport related stress, (2) adjust to environmental changes, and (3) interact with potential predators from the safety of the net pen prior to release into the wild.

After the release, numerous methods were used to increase the rate of recapture. Flyers were taken to fishing supply/bait shops, boat ramps, community centers and other various locations, as well as being mailed to previous fishing survey participants. Interviews with local television and radio stations were conducted as well as a segment on a local fishing show. Local periodicals were also used to help increase awareness. These methods have had limited success. Phone calls of sightings and capture of tagged fish have occurred near the release site, but none have resulted in the return of any tagged ‘omilu. Both acclimated and non-acclimated fish have been sighted at various locations in Kane‘ohe Bay.

Fisherman surveys have also been conducted at five local fishing tournaments, four in Kane‘ohe Bay and one in Waimanalo Bay. These tournaments provide valuable information since the majority of the fish caught are ‘omilu. Participants gave information on number and type of fish caught, location, hours fished, gear, and type of bait. No tagged fish have been returned through tournament survey as of September 2007. Hook and line has also been used as a method of recapture. On October 5, 2006 a staff member caught an ‘omilu (171 mm FL) with a red VIE tag near the release site. Ongoing hook and line effort has focused on areas surrounding the release site based upon visual confirmation of tagged fish.

To learn more, visit hpu.edu or oceanicinstitute.org or e-mail Mr. Gary Karr, at gkarr@oceanicinstitute.org.





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