Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems

Koror’s Happy Fish Market

palau1Lora, Alfred and seven other colleagues are getting up early so they won’t miss the fishers’ arrival. Everyone on the team shows up to gather information on the groupers, parrotfish or snappers brought in from the lagoon last night: they identify the species and take quick measurements since the buyers are already waiting and the Happy Fish Market is bustling with activity. And it’s not a few researchers who are going to disturb the busy routine of the fish mongers and their customers at this facility with such a friendly name.


Lora and Alfred walk around the stands, keeping in mind all the information they learned over the past few days at their training course on creel and market surveys. Dr. Brad Moore, Fisheries Scientist (FinFish) at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), travelled from New Caledonia to Koror, the capital of Palau, in order to train Bureau of Marine Resources and State Ranger staff, in particular to teach them how to interview fishers, identify the different species caught, measure and weigh the fish and determine their sexes and ages.


“We are collecting information and data on fisheries activities in Koror and the surrounding area for management purpose. Trained staff will then continue to collect data on an on-going basis, which will give the Bureau of Marine Resources a clear view of changes in coastal fisheries at the national level,” explained Brad.


The availability of coastal fisheries resources has, in fact, changed significantly over the past few decades and trends should be monitored closely to avoid a scarcity of fish or decreases in their sizes at the Happy Fish Market’s stands. Population increases, pollution of the lagoon by expanding human activities and the deterioration of some underwater habitats due to climate changes all contribute to a reduction in the number of fish available to feed island communities, a trend that has been observed across the Pacific.



In Palau, creating a coastal fisheries database involves a lot of work so Lora, Alfred and their colleagues are initially concentrating on spearfishing and hand-line fishing. The competent Happy Fish Market team are providing assistance in that regard since the categories of fish bought and exported by the Market and their prices are recorded at the Market on a daily basis.


“I also trained the same team in how to enter data into the national database and then perform data extractions and analyses,” said Franck Magron, SPC’s Reef Fisheries Information Manager. In the future, these analyses will allow the Bureau of Marine Resources to monitor catches and suggest appropriate management measures so that coastal fisheries in Palau can sustainably provide both income to fishers and food for local communities.




Training course on creel and market surveys and biological sampling in Koror, Palau, September 2014

(Credit: Brad Moore, Copyright: Secretariat of the Pacific Community)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 January 2015 09:30