Fisheries Division, Botanical Gardens
Saint Georges, Grenada
Grenadas flyingfish fishery is of significance to the large oceanic pelagic fisheries in which longliners are involved to supply the export market. Since flyingfish is the main prey of the species in this fishery, it has naturally become the bait of choice for the longliners. As a consequence the flyingfish fishery has evolved into a valuable bait fishery while it has diminished considerably as a landed food fish - in fact very little flyingfish are presently for sale to the public. It follows, therefore, that it is the longline fleet that needs to be targeted for management. This fleet consists of 163 vessels placed into three categories of (1) Semi-industrial - 60 vessels, (2) Pirogues with cabins - 53 vessels and (3) Open pirogues - 48 vessels.
The sudden drop in recorded landings between 1978 and 1979, as well as the failure of flyingfish to recover to its 1978 levels as a landed food fish since, deserves explanation. The steep decline coincided with the occurrence of the Grenada Revolution (March 13, 1979 to October 25, 1983.) which may have had a serious adverse effect on fishing effort. Although there was a significant flyingfish fleet prior to the 1982, Artisanal Fisheries Development Project (AFDP), the advent of that project as well as the introduction to longline by Cuban fishermen and trainers caused this to change. In practice, artisanal fishers become more and more involved in the high value, commercial oceanic pelagic species. The result was to increasingly relegate flyingfish to a lower status as a landed food fish even as its value as a bait-fish increased appreciably.
The conclusion that very little or no flyingfish at all are now landed in Grenada would be the correct one. However, it would be incorrect to further conclude that flyingfish are no longer targeted in Grenadas waters. What the data in fact reflects is the rapid and fundamental change in the character of Grenada large pelagic fishery as it transformed from artisanal to semi-industrial. This change was accelerated over the past 15 years in the main and it has had a profound effect on how flyingfish is caught and used in the following ways:
The longline fishery targets the large oceanic pelagics (especially yellowfin tuna, marlins and swordfish) primarily for the lucrative export market. Because flyingfish is one of the favourite prey for these fish it has also become the bait of choice for longliners. As a consequence the demand for flyingfish as bait has far exceeded its demand for food thus increasing the value as bait. Thus there is little incentive to land flyingfish for sale as food. Most flyingfish are caught by the longliners themselves en-route to the fishing ground.
Despite the manifest changes occurring in the oceanic pelagic fishery there was no corresponding change in the sampling regime to ensure that at least catches were still captured. Therefore while fishery statistics continued to record persistently depressed landings, virtually nothing is known quantitatively about catches of flyingfish - almost all of which were caught and used offshore.
The objectives of the present exercise are:
To examine the data set more closely for errors and omissions, including seasonal, spatial and annual trends;
To develop a standardized catch and effort series for the Grenadian flyingfish fishery; and
To estimate a stock status, current total landings and total effort, determine trends in landings and effort, standardized assessments among countries sharing the flyingfish resource, make recommendations for a five year management plan.
OUTPUT AND DISCUSSION
The decline in significance of flyingfish, as a food fish effectively shunted the data collection efforts away from the species. Because the resource is still considered important to Grenada, the Exploratory analyses of available data and standardization of CPUE (by trip, site, month etc) and the production of analytical graphs and tables upon which to draw conclusions were attempted. In addition the relative merits of some analytical tools were considered.
A Draft proposal to improve the data collection regime in Grenada is strongly recommended. This should be aimed at achieving compatibility with other islands as well as permitting greater accuracy in assessing the status of the stock (abundance) of flyingfish - this information is also critical to the commercial large pelagic.
Research should be collaborative and aimed at keeping a careful watch on abundance vis-a-vis effort. Grenada itself needs to improve its overall monitoring of the fishery, which in turn will inform a focused research programme.
ANNUAL ESTIMATED LANDINGS OF FLYING FISH IN GRENADA FOR THE YEARS 1978 - 1999