Inshore Fisheries Research

Dr Deborah Davidson

The marine environment, including the inshore environment, of the Falkland Islands is extremely productive. Testament to this is the large, well-managed fishery for both squid and finfish within the Falklands waters. Currently, however, very few inshore species are being exploited in any way. Many of the resources that have been identified within the inshore waters of the Islands are also present in Chile, and indeed are being exploited there either through fisheries or aquaculture. In 2010, the Shallow Marine Surveys Group identified twenty species within the inshore marine environment of the Falkland Islands which have potential to provide small-scale sustainable fisheries or to be farmed.  However, before any form or level of exploitation may begin, the suitability of each species for a small-scale artisanal fishery (or aquaculture) must first of all be determined and assessed.

Click HERE to Download the Inshore Fisheries Species Information Booklet

Background

The project is funded by the Falkland Islands Government through the Economic Development Scheme, in a bid to diversify the economics of the country with a view to providing a new economic facet for the Islands, and create new jobs and sources of revenue. Before any form of exploitation may continue, the distribution, abundance and life history characteristics (age, growth and reproduction) of each species must first be determined. Those species which are deemed unsuitable for any level of exploitation (for example, if they are not abundant or are too slow growing and only produce few young a year) will not be considered for a fishery. Those that are, however, found to be suitable candidate species will be managed and have a fishery quota set by the data provided. It is possible, though, that some form of aquaculture for these species may be preferable to removal of individuals from the natural population.

Seven species are being investigated further in the Inshore Fisheries Project:

  • the giant mussel (Choromytilus chorus)
  • the ribbed mussel (Aulacomya ater)
  • the giant barnacle (Austromegabalanus psittacus)
  • the striped clam (Eurhomalea exalbida)
  • the rough thorn drupe (Acanthina monodon)
  • the keyhole limpets (Fissurella spp.)
  • Experimental work will be conducted with the Chilean sea urchin (Loxechinus albus) in order to determine methodologies for estimating urchin biomass within the Falkland Islands.

These seven species were chosen because, potentially, their abundance and life history traits may make them amenable to small-scale fisheries or aquaculture. This project intends to elucidate whether this is, indeed, the case. It is also believed that there may be a potential market – either domestic or international - for these species, given that most of them are fished and distributed elsewhere.

Methods

  • Regular inshore dive surveys conducted by the Shallow Marine Surveys Group to determine habitats, environmental variables and species presence/abundance
  • Regular collection of specimens for collection of biological data and analysis of gonads and shells (where possible) for determination of age, growth and reproduction
  • Prediction of species presence based on determining environmental variables
  • Determine possible methodologies for potential aquaculture for candidate species