A team from the Fisheries Department Operations & Development (O&D) and Coastal Fisheries (CF) Sections, and NAPA II officers, teamed up between 18th June and 11th July to go on their first ‘metronome’ trip to the northern outer islands to commence the Fisheries Department and the NAPA II targeted work plans for 2016. A metronome trip is one of 3-4 scheduled trips to be carried out each year. The trips are scheduled well in advance so that all concerned can plan their work programmes properly. They are designed to be the ‘heartbeat’ of the outer islands work in Tuvalu, ensuring that there is a mechanism for regularly carrying out fishery and socio-economic surveys, consultations and repair-work on FADs at least once on each island each year. The team consisted of 10 fisheries staff, 2 NAPA II officers and 3 officers from the Public Works Department.
The target audience of the trip was the community, especially the Kaupules and fishermen of each island. The team trained island participants on sea safety, new fishing techniques, the using of fishing gears and the use of ‘grab bags’ which contain small-boat safety equipment. Sixteen grab bags were distributed to fishers on each island, 10 of which were supplied by the NAPA II project and 6 by the cyclone Pam disaster relief fund from New Zealand. The team was also involved with the checking of FADs – changing of old ropes to new ones, tying coconut leaves around the ropes, and surveying the atolls for potential new FAD sites. A survey of the location and siting of a new Community Fishing Centre (CFC) building was carried out by the O&D team. The team from O&D trained participants from each island on how to patch aluminium boats as well as training their fisheries mechanic on how to weld, and how to maintain outboard motors. Each of the outer islands was donated one aluminium welding machines, again funded by New Zealand.
The Coastal and NAPA II team also dealt with socio economic surveys, introduction and collaboration with the outer island people on creel survey, collating information on ciguatera/fish poisoning and collect information for island profiles. The squad came back safely to Funafuti after accomplishing their assign tasks.