Researchers train Indonesian scientists in fish reproductive analyses

Sustainable fisheries management requires accurate stock assessments which often depend on reliable fish life history information. To build capacity in fish life history studies, a three-week Specialist Training in Histology-based Reproductive Analysis of Tropical Fishes at Pattimura University in Ambon, Maluku, Indonesia during July and August 2021 was led by scientists from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) and UH’s Windward Community College (WCC).

Indonesia has the world’s second largest fisheries by catch and harbors an incredible diversity of marine species across a sprawling archipelago. The effective management of Indonesia’s fisheries relies on the development and adoption of sustainable harvest strategies. Key to a sustainable approach are stock assessments that include scientifically robust information on the fishery and marine resources including their life history traits.

Dedicated participants, training enhance Indonesian capacity

Gino Limmon, Director of the Maritime and Marine Science Center of Excellence at Pattimura University, said the training provided capacity building that will enhance the integrity and credibility of scientific information used to manage fisheries in Indonesia and especially in the Maluku and North Maluku provinces.

“Marine fisheries are a vital natural resource for economic export and national food security in Indonesia,” Limmon said. “Sustainable management of fishery resources depends upon good information and this workshop trained a cadre of Indonesian scientists to generate reliable scientific data to support fisheries.”

Erik Franklin, one of the training instructors and associate research professor at SOEST’s Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology, said the training was a strong success due to the hard work and dedication of the participants and the excellent facilities and logistical support during the event.

“The UH team faced a number of barriers just to get to Indonesia during the pandemic. On our way there and during the workshop, we were provided with excellent support that dealt with any issue immediately,” said Franklin. “The Indonesian participants were collectively the best group that we’ve ever trained, after teaching these approaches in several locations around the western Pacific. We truly look forward to continuing to work with the fishery science community of Indonesia through future training and research collaborations.”

Collaboration and funding

Heather D’Agnes, Senior Program Officer, Environment Program of the Walton Family Foundation (WFF), said that the training directly supported the mission of WFF to enhance the capacity of Indonesian scientists to sustainably manage the diverse and important fisheries of Indonesia.

WFF funded the “Supplemental Technical Assistance (STA) to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Sustainable Ecosystems Advanced (SEA)” project to Tetra Tech which supported this training workshop. Prior to the start of the training, the STA project equipped the Maritime and Marine Science Center of Excellence at Pattimura University in Ambon with a fully operational histology lab to conduct the training and serve as a resource for future research and training.

Gina Green, Ph.D., STA project manager for Tetra Tech, said, “The project was a true team effort. Considering all the challenges for this critically important training to have successfully taken place, we were extremely glad we had Dr. Franklin and his team as key and essential players! This project would not have been successful without the University of Hawaiʻi’s participation.”

Training details

Histology is the anatomical study of the microscopic structure of fish tissues. The training focused on histology-based methods to examine the reproductive biology of fishes. The participants were trained in the methods using two coral reef fish species (Epinephelus fasciatus, Lutjanus gibbus) and two small coastal pelagic fish species (Decapterus macarellus, Selar crumenophthalmus) that are all caught by Indonesian fisheries. The topics covered in the training included fish identification and dissection, gonad preparation, embedding, and sectioning, tissue slide interpretation, oocyte counts, and data analysis. Eight Indonesian participants including faculty members and students from Pattimura University and scientists from the Deep Sea Research Center of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences were trained.

The UH team included Franklin, Ken Longenecker from HIMB and Ross Langston of UH’s Windward Community College.

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