National Fisheries Developments LTD (NFD) Supports Innovative Tuna Science In The Solomon Islands

For Immediate Release on 19 June, 2013

Noro, Western Province, Solomon Islands  – NFD is assisting with the collection of tissue samples from bigeye and yellowfin tuna for geneticists at the University of Bologna, Italy, and the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) that will help us better understand these fish.  In addition, NFD is continuing its collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) to conduct spill sampling onboard its purse seiners to improve the accuracy of catch data in the Solomon Islands.  These are just the latest of a series of ongoing efforts by Tri Marine companies’ to unlock the secrets of how these species behave and are caught, which will in turn help us develop more sustainable fishing practices. National Fisheries Developments LTD (NFD) Supports Innovative Tuna Science In The Solomon Islands

Craig Proctor, Dale Kolody (left and right, CSIRO), and Soni Toribule (center, NFD) removing tissue, otolith, gill and liver samples from yellowfin and bigyeye tuna in the Solomon Islands.

The objective of the tissue sampling is to assess the global population structure of the three most important tropical tuna species: skipjack, yellowfin, and bigeye. Population structure is a broad but significant topic, as it characterizes the similarities and differences among populations of the same species.  For example, we may see regional subpopulations of tuna stocks with unique attributes in terms of movement, reproduction, growth, and other physical or behavioral traits that effect overall evolution.  As our understanding improves, we can in turn adopt fisheries management measures that better conserve tuna resources, such as more spatially specific regulations.

The genetics work being done by the University of Bologna is global in scope and includes tissue sampling of tuna from all the world’s oceans.  The efforts of CSIRO are more regionally defined, with the Indonesian Archipelago as the focus, and analysis of tuna in surrounding countries like the Solomon Islands being an important compliment.  In combination, we will have a clearer picture of how tuna populations are structured and interact both locally and internationally. 

Together with SPC, NFD is also participating in spill sampling, another important aspect of fisheries science.  Tuna fishing with purse seine nets is an efficient method, and sometimes when the net is set and hauled in, particularly if it is set around or near a fish aggregating device (FAD), there are a number of different species caught.  However, with an average of 20 metric tons of fish harvested on a single set, and that fish rapidly loaded into the vessel freezing wells, it is difficult to know exactly how many fish from each species are brought in.    Therefore, sampling is the only way to obtain accurate, species-specific catch estimates, which is fundamental to monitoring the impact of our fisheries on both target and non-target species.  Spill sampling, versus grab sampling or other methods, has been found to be most effective, and Tri Marine welcomes this work on vessels and at ports.

These efforts at NFD are reflective of the Tri Marine philosophy.  We believe it is our duty to be a good steward of tuna resources and the broader marine ecosystem.  Therefore, we continue working toward improving the scientific understanding of the species we harvest, establishing appropriate management strategies as a result, and promoting implementation and enforcement of these measures across the industry.

Background on NFD & Tri Marine

National Fisheries Developments LTD (NFD) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Tri Marine Group of Companies. Tri Marine’s business includes fishing, procurement, processing, and trading of tuna and other seafood products. A privately held company headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, Tri Marine has offices in 14 countries with 12 processing plants strategically located around the globe.   The company’s fleet of 21 fishing vessels operates primarily in the Western Pacific, ten based in American Samoa.  Since its founding in 1971 in Singapore, Tri Marine has grown to be one of the largest tuna supply companies in the world serving well-known CPG brands as well as processing plants and fishing companies.