The Conservation Services Programme of the Department of Conservation Marine Species and Threats team recognise that Government Fisheries Observers on commercial fishing vessels are not always able to identify protected cold-water corals at sea with high precision (especially to species level), with the confirmation of bycaught species requiring identification from a coral taxonomist in most cases.
Building on the account of the protected coral specimens identified in year 1 of this project, presented in the February 2018 and July 2018 Progress Reports, this Final Report for year 2 of the project summarises the sample identifications for the period 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018. A total of 206 specimen samples, those collected during the reporting period as well as historical Observer and research trawl survey specimen identifications, were identified to the lowest taxonomic level. Updates were then made to the Centralised Observer Database (COD). The identification of protected corals from digital images provided by Observers are also described. Identifications were possible for 277 protected coral images, 214 of which were able to be georeferenced.
While priority has been given to Observer collected protected corals, as per the Project requirements, research trawl coral samples have also been processed during this reporting period. The final identification data for these samples (using MPI codes), will be loaded onto the MPI Research Trawl Database (trawl) in the final year of the project.
To meet the second project objective, a sub-sample of each live specimen is taken for future genetic analysis. Forty-nine coral tissue samples are now held in storage for future genetic studies.
Macpherson, D., Tracey, D., Mills S., Thomas, H. (2018). Identification and storage of cold-water coral bycatch specimens: 1 July 2017- 30 June 2018. Final Report prepared by NIWA for the Conservation Services Programme, Department of Conservation. INT2015-03. NIWA Client Report 201850WN. 49 p.