VALUE OF FISH RESOURCES
The people of Guam have
depended upon the sea for subsistence for thousands of years.
Subsistence fishing is still important today, and commercial fishing
is developing as well. Many different fishing techniques
are used on Guam, some of them having a long tradition of use,
others of more recent vintage.
For harvesting reef fishes,
the most productive methods are various forms of net fishing.
Cast net fishing (talaya) requires a great deal of skill
as the fisherman carefully approaches a school of fish and throws
his net in such a way that the net opens out in the air and falls
over the fish school, trapping as many fish as possible. Many
kinds of fish are taken by cast net fishermen on Guam, principally
schooling fishes such as rabbitfish (p.
117), atulai (p.
49), mullet (p. 123),
goatfish (p. 65), and
surgeonfish (p. 111).
Setting a surround net
(chinchulon umesugon) requires several people. These long nets
are used to surround large groups of fishes on the reef. The
same fish species that are taken with cast nets are taken with
surround nets, but catches are usually much greater. Tremendous
catches of atulai can be taken in surround nets during seasonal
runs of these fish.
Gill nets (tekin) work
by entangling fishes in the meshes of the net. The same
fish groups taken by other netting methods are taken with gill
nets, but the size of fish caught depends on the mesh size of
the net: smaller fish can pass through without becoming entangled
and larger fish cannot fit within.the meshes of the net.
Drag nets (chinchulun
mahala) are used in sandy areas of the reefs where the net can
be set and then pulled onto the beach without being snagged on
rocks or corals. Several people are required to operate
the drag net, and a variety of fish species can be harvested.
A number of permanent
fish weirs are located in various areas around Guam. The
fish weirs are situated so that fishes which are leaving reef
flat areas for deeper water as the tide drops will enter the weir
and be trapped. Snappers (p.
51), jacks (p. 45),
mullets (p. 123), and
slipmouths (p. 49)
make up the greatest part of the fish weir catch.
A significant catch of
fish is taken by spearfishermen who generally target on fish of
a variety of species. Spearfishermen using underwater flashlights
to fish at night catch parrotfish (p.
101) and surgeonfish (p.
111), which sleep in partially exposed areas at night, and
squirrelfish (p. 29),
which have emerged from their daytime hiding places.
catch large numbers of atulai during seasonal runs. The atulai
migrate through channels into inshore areas in the evenings and
then back out through these channels in the early morning hours.
During the atulai season, hook-and-line fishermen are lined up
shoulder to shoulder along these channels. At other times
of the year hook-and-line fishermen catch snappers (p.
51), groupers (p.
37), jacks ( p. 45),
and other carnivorous fishes on the reef margins.