For enquiries about Tristan da Cunha Fisheries email - tristandcANRD@gmail.com
|Final Report of 2012/13 Fishing Season from Erik McKenzie 28th May 2013 |
2012/2013 season ended up being a bit disappointing overall from an Island perspective. We landed a total of 122, 258 kg with the island boats and the Edinburgh caught the balance of approximately 48 tonnes. The weather played a very big part in the low island catch as we only managed 39 fishing days between July and April.
In order to try and maximise the landings in the early part of the season we will be putting the new boat (Island Pride) into action at the start of the new season, instead of keeping her as a spare boat in case of mechanical breakdowns as originally planned. We have also placed an order for an additional two boats to be built in South Africa and they will also join the fishery as soon as they are delivered to the Island.We hope to have these delivered by August, but this will depend on build time and space being available on the vessel going down to the island. The season is planned to start from 1 July as usual, but actual fishing start will depend again on the weather. The boats have been inspected by Government representatives and been given their seaworthy certificates, ready for the new season.
From a production perspective we had a good season with a satisfactory final percentage of catch being processed into Raw, Cooked and Sashimi product which is what the market requires. We also packed the required quantities of tails necessary to supply the USA market. We look forward to trying to land the entire quota using only Island boats and crews this season and will pack lobster heads again in an attempt to maximise the use of edible product which was previously crushed and returned to the sea.
Fishing Report up to the end of February 2013
The main problem this year has been bad weather. Average landings over the 36 days fished so far has been 3.25 tonnes which is lower than we expected. November was the really bad month for us as we usually have quite a few fishing days and landings are normally very good at that time of year so we were playing catch up from then on.
Fortunately the bad fishing performance coincided with a very welcome increase in the percentage of fish that was suitable for live holding and consequent whole production. The lower than expected daily averages and use of a new live holding vessel at sea meant that fish were both more lively on arrival and could be sorted and graded in less of a rush.
The economic return on lobster packed into whole form - as raw, cooked or Sashimi is generally much better than tails and we are happy with the test results so far. It is a fairly low-tech method which is delivering good results - the idea being to keep the lobster fully submerged in natural conditions until they are transported back to the factory and then put back into water as soon as possible.
Because we are using small fishing boats it is not practical to have live holding tanks on board so we built a small rubber pontoon boat in which we slung netting to contain the containers of live lobster as they are caught. The next step would be to design a vessel that can actually be towed back to harbour without the need to remove the lobster for the trip back.
We hope to publish photos of the fishing operation soon.
Return Home for Christmas
Poor November Fish Catch
Changes like this not only affect the fishermen, processors and factory staff in terms of lost income, but affect sailing schedules and shipping deployment drastically as well. With Islanders and visitors alike planning their trips long in advance, unplanned variations are seldom beneficial to anyone.
One of the few good things to emerge this season is that live recovery has been better than forecast in percentage terms and whole versus tailed production is therefore higher so far. Reasons for this include a drop in daily average landings of app 1100 kg a day and good handling by fishermen and processors.
The trials of our experimental floating platform to keep lobsters at sea fully submerged from sorting to landing have also consistently shown good results and once we finalise the best final design we should be able to take this further by placing orders for further units. This might be a slower than expected rollout but it would be unwise to purchase more until we have solved the design problem, so we could end up still experimenting by the end of this season.
We might all be pleasantly surprised early next year by big, regular landings of hungry lobster and I certainly hope this is the case. It is quite possible that we end up having a late season as we had signs of lobster carrying eggs much later in the season than we normally expect and daily landings did not increase drastically towards the end of October as we usually expect when the females come back on the bite. This is the only optimistic sign I can see in what is so far a very disappointing season overall.
Erik is due to return on the January 2013 Edinburgh trip.
Fishery Update - Post Oliva
A workshop was recently held in Cape Town to assess the latest test fishing data from Nightingale and the lobster juvenile surveys at Nightingale and Inaccessible.
Nightingale Island Fishery
Agreement reached with Owners and Insurers of the MS Oliva
Report from Administrator Sean Burns on 11th September 2012
I am pleased to report that we have finally reached an agreement with the owners/insurers of the MS Oliva, the bulk carrier that ran aground at Nightingale Island on 16 March 2011.
The details of the settlement are a commercial matter between the vessels owners/insurers and the Tristan Government but we are satisfied that the settlement represents a reasonable and fair deal for us to move forward with the management of the fishery and protection of the environment.
In the meantime the fishery at Nightingale remains closed and the quota at Inaccessible has been reduced to 44 tonnes. These are provisional quotas that will be reviewed at a meeting of fishery experts in Cape Town in November. James Glass, our Fisheries Director will be attending on Tristan’s behalf.
MV Edinburgh arrives to begin outer island 2012/13 fishing season
The Ovenstone fishing vessel arrived from Cape Town on Thursday 30th August to herald the beginning of outer-island fishing for the 2012/13 season. Tristan island based power boats started the season in July but the arrival of MV Edinburgh for an extended trip means the spring fishing season is properly underway. The vessel will proceed to fish around Gough and Inaccessible and is scheduled to return to Cape Town from Tristan on 16th October.