11 May 2016

ID cards issued on Pacific marine species

7:02 pm on 11 May 2016

Identification cards describing 30 species of whales, dolphins and seabirds have been produced by the Pacific Community, or SPC.

It's hoped they will assist Pacific Islands regional fisheries observers with identifying species of special interest while onboard commercial tuna fishing vessels.

The new waterproof pocket cards, produced with financial assistance from the Japan Trust Fund, contain the common and scientific name of the species and outline key features.

The SPC said the cards would be distributed to observers across the region as part of its efforts to ensure observers possess the tools to accurately identify and record catch.

It's also designed to assist with sightings of species of special interest and their interaction with fishing activities.

SPC's Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems Division Chief Scientist and Deputy-Director Oceanic Fisheries, Dr John Hampton underlined the need to gather accurate assessments of target fisheries stocks and protected species.

"When observers collect information about these species, their ability to accurately identify the rarer species is often critical because a small change in their population numbers has a proportionally greater significance," he explained.

"These handy identification cards will greatly assist with this process."

A tattered Hector's dolphin fin

A male dolphin known as Fingers, from the ragged glove-like appearance of his dorsal fin, has been seen since 2005. Photo: Steve Dawson / NZ Whale & Dolphin Trust