Pole-and-line fishing offers one of the most environmentally and socially desirable ways of catching tuna. The method is dependent on the availability of small pelagic fish (baitfish) released live into the sea to attract tuna schools within range of a vessel’s fishing gear.
Reports estimates that current live bait requirements for pole and-line tuna are between 19,000 and 48,000 tonnes per year, with a mean average of 25,000 tonnes. Live baitfish fisheries have a number of environmental and social impacts, which together underscore the importance of conducting any highlighted include a reduction in the amount of forage available for the larger piscivorous species on which subsistence and commercial fisheries depend, incidental and deliberate capture of juveniles and of species targeted by artisanal fisheries, overexploitation of live baitfish fisheries and conflict between bait fisheries and local communities or tour operators.
Currently, the country is facing a reduction in bait fisheries. While there were particular concerns about the status of baitfish resources in some atolls during 2003-06, pole and line fishing effort has fallen about 25% since that time, with a consequent reduction in bait catch.
A trend towards reduced baitfish catches over recent years combined with conflicts with the use of baitfish for human consumption, which is a cheap source of seafood for local people, has significantly increased bait fish prices.
This situation has necessitated consideration of farming baitfish to ensure a sustainable supply to pole-and-line tuna fishers. Milkfish is one of the potential farmed fish that could be used as bait in the tuna industry, as it has been successfully trialed in the past.
Milkfish farming for food fish production is already well established in Indonesia and other countries such as the Philippines, Taiwan, and Pacific island countries. It is considered to be an environmentally sound farming system due to milkfish’s low food chain positioning - herbivorous or omnivorous feeding habit.
With Mangroves as a perfect habitat for milk fish conservation, Marine Rejuvenation Action will work towards culturing and introducing milk fish as bait fish for local fisherman and to work towards new marine regulations regarding bait fisheries.
PROJECT VALUE USD 50,000