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Mercredi, 23 Juillet 2014 15:57

Exploratory squid fishing in Fiji waters, a success

fijisquid1The so-called ‘giant squid’, in fact scientifically known as Thysanoteuthis rhombus or diamond-back squid, is a large squid species growing to 100 cm in mantle length and a maximum weight of 30 kg. The species occurs worldwide, throughout tropical and subtropical waters, but because of the depths at which it lives, only few Pacific Island fishermen have seen it. Commercially fished in the Sea of Japan and Okinawa, it represents a species of interest for countries wishing to diversify their coastal fisheries.

Following successful exploratory fishing trials in New Caledonia (2012) and the Cook Islands (2013), SPC and the Fiji Fisheries Division undertook similar trials in Fiji waters, early in July 2014... and results have been impressive! Despite adverse weather conditions, fishing was carried out over four consecutive days, south of Suva then north of Kadavu Island. In all, 63 four-jig squid lines were deployed and brought in 56 diamond-back squids and 3 neon flying squids – another edible species but of lesser commercial interest – for a total catch of 827 kilos. The catch per unit of effort was much higher in Fiji (0.9 squid per line) than in New Caledonia (0.5 squid per line) or the Cook Islands (0.33 squid per line).

The fishing trials have raised considerable interest in Fiji with broad media coverage and cooking trials in many restaurants of the Suva area. With staff now trained in the fishing method and fishing gear on hand, the Fisheries Division will continue to scope the diamond-back squid resource around the country, and it is possible that one or two local fishing companies will gear themselves up for the commercial exploitation of that resource. While the low market price for diamond-back squid in Japan make their export from the Pacific Islands economically non-viable, countries with a developed tourism sector like Fiji could promote the squids on the local market, at restaurants and hotels. The diamond-back squid is predominantly consumed as sashimi in Japan but JICA did compile a register of 53 different cooking recipes for that sole species!

Those squid fishing trials were part of the Nearshore Fisheries Development Section’s mandate to strengthen food security, identify new livelihoods opportunities and promote coastal fisheries diversification. Project costs were sponsored by the New Zealand Aid Programme and SPC’s staff time by France and AusAID. The Fiji Fisheries Department provided its 37-m fisheries research vessel Bai Ni Tikali and crew for the duration of the trials.

 


For more information: Michel Blanc, SPC Nearshore Fisheries Development Adviser

 
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