Fisheries Division, Bay Front
Roseau, Commonwealth of Dominica
The flyingfish fishery of Dominica is artisanal in nature and is characterized by small canoes and keel boats and open fibre glass boats to a lesser extent. These vessels range from 16 to 25 ft in length and are propelled by outboard engines with 25 HP and 48 HP being the most commonly used engines.
The main gear deployed in the fishery are handlines, dipnets and gillnets. The fish are attracted to floating objects for purposes of spawning. This activity encourages schooling behaviour and they become susceptible to being caught. Flyingfish is caught from the waters around the island both from the Caribbean Sea and from the Atlantic Ocean. The crew is usually 2 - 3 men per boat. Most of the fishermen in this fishery are either approaching fifty (50) years or over fifty years old. The younger fishermen on the island do not generally target flyingfish as they prefer to go after the high value large pelagic species.
The main objectives of the current analyses were:
To check the data set for errors and omissions and to examine seasonal, spatial and annual trends, in landings and fishing effort;
To develop a standardized catch and effort series for the Dominican flyingfish fishery; and
To estimate stock status, current total landings and total effort, to determine trends in landings and effort, to carry out standardized assessments among countries sharing the flyingfish resource and to make recommendations for a five year management plan.
The data used for the analysis were catch and effort data for flyingfish collected over a six year period 1994 to 1999. The data consisted of landings recorded in pounds landed per boat per landing site. For purposes of the analysis the weight was converted into kilograms. The effort data were collected in hours fished but for the current analysis, effort was measured in boat trips. One trip represented one day fished regardless of the time-spent fishing. In cases where two trips were done in one day it is also entered as another trip but the date of the same day would be recorded. The data collectors who obtained this data were fairly well trained and had been collecting fisheries data from 1987.
The gillnet is the most commonly used gear for catching flyingfish followed by hand line. The pattern of landings over 1994 to 1999 showed a sharp decline over 1995 and 1996 with 1997 showing the lowest recorded landing during the period under study (fig. X). The results showed a moderate increase over the next two years, ie. 1998 and 1999, which was still well below the landings of the earlier years. Since it appears that many factors affect the landings of this fishery, it is difficult to determine the cause of the decline and the low rate of recovery as indicated by the catches recorded.
However, it is also true that the Dominican fishing fleet was severely affected by hurricanes in 1996 and 1997 and again by Hurricane Lenny in 1999. This state of events caused a reduction in fishing effort during that period as indicated in the plot on total estimated effort (fig. X). In addition there has been a growing tendency for younger fishermen to leave flyingfish to target the higher valued large pelagic species.
Distinct seasonal patterns were noticed in the fishery with a period of abundance observed from December to February and another peak period in June. This is the same period during which other high value migratory large palagic species are targeted.
In an effort to standardize catch per unit effort a General Linear Model (GLM) was used. Variables used in the model were season, month and site location. The factors, month and site location was significant, but season was not. This observation was due to the fact that flyingfish is not a major target fishery in Dominica, secondly it is part of a multispecies fishery which has some effort expended on it the value of which is not very well known. Flyingfish therefore, cannot be studied in isolation of the other species along with which it is caught considering that different species are caught on the same trip.
The data set was insufficient to warrant any firm conclusion on the flyingfish fishery. A longer time series is required and a study of fishermens behaviour towards this fishery is required.
Figure 1 FLYNGFISH CATCHES BY GEAR RECORDED IN DOMINICA 1994 - 1999
Figure 2 RECORDED CATCH OF FLYNG FISH FOR THE 1994 - 1999
Figure 3 Monthly Recorded catch of Flyng fish in Dominica
Figure 4 (Estimate) Landings of Flying fish in Dominica by Year
Figure 5 Total (Estimated) effort (#trips) by year