III. ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT AND MONITORING OF FISHERY RESOURCES IN SAMOA
In 1988/89, FAO/UNDP conducted a project to assess the subsistence fishery in Samoa. The study team found the Fisheries Division lacked vehicles for transportation and manpower to conduct household surveys. Eventually, the project team used senior high school students to record daily subsistence catches in their own extended families. Students kept a weekly fishing log of household fishing activities (fishing methods, effort and catches) over a 7-day period (King, 1990). The survey could be repeated at intervals over the year to detect seasonal variations in catches. Teachers provided a data quality check by marking the student logs and indicating which entries were likely to be unreliable (to avoid exaggeration of a family's fishing ability).
The survey forms showed illustrations of the major fish and invertebrate species, including how to measure them. The vertical axis of the table listed the English and Samoan names of major groups (crustaceans, molluscs, other invertebrates, reef/lagoon fish, offshore fish) and common types of invertebrates and fish taken (crabs, lobsters, giant clam, octopus, sea cucumber, sea urchins, mullet, milkfish, surgeonfish, parrotfish, tuna, etc). The number of people fishing per day and total hours-spent fishing per day were listed at the bottom. The horizontal axis had the day of the week with two vertical columns for number caught and average length.
Instructions, in English and Samoan, are: "Enter the numbers and average length (cm) of all fish and other sea creatures caught by people in your household during each whole day (including the night). Measure the animals as in the drawings. Use this form for one week and fill in one daily column after each day."
The project yielded a surprising amount of information; even estimates of sustainable yield by area. The quantity and diversity of the catch from each village was found to be related to the area and type of ecosystem available for fishing as well as the numbers of fishers. The number of villages, and their populations, adjacent to different types of marine ecosystems were taken from existing government statistics and traditional fishing areas of each village estimated from charts using a planimeter. The survey team defined three ecosystems:
The project staff analysed the data and calculated the number of kilograms of fish per hectare of reef per year. This provided an excellent index of the productivity of the reef.