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Current status of Terubok Sarawak (Tenualosa toli) in the south-west coast of Sarawak, Malaysia.

Mohamad Hambali Tumiran1, Shabdin Mohd. Long1, Yuzine Esa2, Awang Ahmad Sallehin Awang Husaini3, Khairul Adha A. Rahim1
Department of Aquatic Science, Faculty of Resource Science and Technology, UNIMAS. 2 Department of Zoology, Faculty of Resource Science and Technology, UNIMAS 3 Department of Molecular Biology, Faculty of Resource Science and Technology, UNIMAS
Corresponding authors email: bebu_lee@yahoo.com
1

Keywords: Terubok Sarawak, current status, south-west coast of Sarawak

INTRODUCTION The decline in Terubok Sarawak (Tenualosa toli) catch landing since 1980s had urged the state government of Sarawak to viewed with serious concern regarding the problem and directed the Ministry of Agriculture and Community Development (now re-styled as Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry (MAFI)) to conduct a collaborative research with Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australia. The research was started in 1993 aiming for continued survival of T. toli population in Sarawak by studying the biology and ecology aspect of the species. The research project had also embarked on culture and re-seeding of the species. T. toli can be found in three estuaries (core Terubok areas) of large river system namely; Batang Lassa in Sarikei; Batang Saribas and Batang Lupar in Sri Aman [1]. However, from 1993 to 1995, the collaborative research project had found that Terubok Sarawak is now confined mainly to two estuaries of Batang Lupar and Batang Lassa [2]. In addition, it was stated that more than one million T. toli fry was released into Batang Lupar from 1996 to 2006 as an outcome from the culture and re-seeding project [3]. There were no fry released into other core Terubok areas due to handling difficulties [4]. Although, re-seeding project was conducted since 1996, the catch landing of T. toli in Batang Lupar were reported to be poor in 1998 making Batang Lassa as the last stronghold of T. toli fishery [3]. Status of T. toli in the estuary of Batang Saribas remains unknown as there were no detailed data on the population of the species in this location from previous study. Most of data from previous study involved largely population from Batang Lassa and Batang Lupar. Therefore, this study was conducted to obtain the current status of T. toli population in the south-west coast of Sarawak (Batang Lupar and Batang Saribas); to determine the current length and weight range of the species; to compare the current length and weight range of the species with data from previous study. MATERIALS AND METHODS Study on the status of T. toli was conducted by obtaining data on the weight and length frequency of the species. Specimens were collected by purchasing fresh specimens of known origin from local fish market around Kuching and Samarahan area on a monthly basis from May 2010 to April 2011 (12 months or one year). Beside that, sampling trips were also conducted at the south-west coast of Sarawak (estuaries of Batang Lupar and Batang Saribas) with the help of local fishermen from Sebuyau, Maludam and Beladin. The fish was caught using 3.5 to 4.0 inches (75 mm 100 mm) stretch mesh monofilament gill nets.

Specimens collected were weighed using digital balance and measured for the standard measurement. The catch rates and catch per unit effort during the sampling trips was also recorded. The descriptions of weather including cloud cover of the area of that particular time, sampling area and location using Global Positioning System (GPS) was also recorded. Local fishermen were also interviewed for additional information. RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS Overall, 147 specimens was collected in this study. Only 23 specimens were collected from the sampling trips while the others 124 specimens were bought from local fish market and fishermen. All of the specimens bought from local fish market around Kuching and Samarahan area are caught in the estuary of Batang Lupar (117 specimens) while only seven specimens are caught in the estuary of Batang Saribas (bought from fishermen in Maludam). Most of the fishermen in Batang Saribas sell their T. toli catches to the middle-men that will bring the catches to Kuching (Satoks Market) and only kept several catches for their own consumption. On the other hand, most fishermen from Batang Lupar directly brought their T. toli catches to local fish market around Samarahan where they will sold the catches to the local fishmonger in Samarahan or to the middle-men whom will bring the catches to local fish market in Kuching area. In some cases, such as T. toli specimens bought from local fish market in Kampung Bako, Kuching, the catches was caught by local fishermen from that area during fishing trip at Batang Lupar estuary (mostly near to Pulau Burong area). This catches are usually mixed with the catches of Terubok Laut (Tenualosa macrura). Smaller T. toli is locally known as Empirit in Sarawak, while the larger fish is commonly known as Terubok or Bekawal. The male T. toli are smaller in size and usually change their sex to female at the size about 27 cm with weight 600 g [3]. Therefore, in this study, the specimens having length less than 27 cm are classified as Empirit and the specimens having length 27 cm or larger are classified as Terubok. From 147 specimens collected, 65 (45%) specimens are classified as Empirit and 82 (55%) specimens are classified as Terubok.

Empirit
25

Terubok

No. of specimens

20

15

10

0
ay -1 0 ov -1 0 ar -1 1 10 Ju l-1 0 Se p10 10 Fe b11 Ju n10 ct -1 0 Ja n11 Au gM N D M O Ap r-1 ec 1

Figure 1. Number of Empirit and Terubok specimens collected according to month.

From the total number of Empirit and Terubok collected, the fishing effort for smaller size T. toli can be described as lower compared to the larger size. This data also shows that most of the fishermen are following the rules provided by the government for using larger mesh size net to avoid smaller size T. toli or Empirit. Catches of Empirit should be avoided to ensure that the species could undergo sex change and spawning as female in the second year of their life cycle. Figure 1 shows that most of Terubok catches occurred from August 2010 to October 2010 while Empirit catches mostly occurred in April 2011. This figure shows similar trend of Empirit and Terubok catches recorded in previous study by MAFI and CSIRO, Australia (1999). According to the previous study, catches of Empirit from the estuary of Batang Lupar are at the peak from April to June 1997 while catches of terubok are at the peak in November 1996, and from July to September 1997. The overall weight of specimens collected is 42274.80 g (42 kg) with the mean weight is 287.58 g. The largest individual weight is 850.00 g and the smallest individual weight is 53.04 g. In 1993, MAFI and CSIRO, Australia recorded the weight ranged for T. toli collected from Batang Lupar between 46 g to 1650 g. The weight range obtained in this study is smaller and shows that T. toli with larger weight (reaching 1000 g) is hard to obtain nowadays. The largest total weight of specimens was recorded in February 2011 (8536.90 g) and the smallest total weight of specimens is in November 2010 (0 g). Number of specimens collected in February 2011 is 19 while no specimen was collected in November 2010 due to zero or very small fishing effort in the period of adverse weather caused by north-east monsoon. The weight of the specimens collected in February 2011 ranged from 295.66 g to 766.85 g which explained the large total weight of specimens value (refer Figure 2).

9000 8000 7000


7707.48 7203.14

8526.90

Weight (g)

6000 5000 4000


2983.10 4027.96 4373.28

3000 2000 1000 0


0
75.00

2016.43 1232.88

2265.82 1862.81

0.00

Au g10

ov -1 0

ar -1 1

Ju l-1 0

Se p10

Fe b11

Ju n10

10

Ja n11

ay -1

Figure 2. Total weight of specimens (0.01 g) collected according to month

Ap r-1

ct -1

ec -

700 600

672.14

513.83

500

448.78

Weight (g)

400 300 200


251.75 218.66

343.01 310.47 248.59

102.74

102.99

100 0
ay -1 0

75.00 0.00

Au g10

ov -1 0

ar -1 1

Ju l-1 0

Se p10

Fe b11

Ju n10

ec -1 0

Ja n11

Figure 3. Mean total weight of specimens collected according to month Figure 3 shows the mean total weight of specimens collected according to month. June 2010 recorded the highest mean value because all three individuals collected within this month having individual weight more than 500 g (607.40 g, 702.02 g, and 707.01 g). Based on these figures, larger sizes T. toli are dominating the catches during their spawning season (June 2010 October 2010) and at early 2011 (February and March). This is because most of the fishermen are targeting the female T. toli that are larger in size for their roe. Furthermore, it also describes that most of the larger sizes T. toli are abundance within those months.
50 45 40 35 Frequency 30 25 20 15 10 5 0
0.0-5.0 5.1-10.0 10.1-15.0 15.1-20.0 20.1-25.0 25.1-30.0 30.1-35.0 35.1-40.0 40.1-45.0 45.1-50.0

Length (cm)

Figure 4. Frequency of specimens collected according to length classes. Length of specimens collected in this study ranged from 19.6 cm to 44.6 cm (total length) and 12.9 cm to 36.5 cm (standard length). MAFI and CSIRO, Australia (1994) recorded the standard lengths range for T. toli collected from Batang Lupar was from 14.0 cm to 45.0 cm. Ranges different between this study and previous study shows that the sizes of the species are getting smaller and larger individuals are hard to obtain. Figure 4 show that T. toli with average total length are dominating the specimens collection. The same reason for the number of Empirit and Terubok collected can be applied for this data. Most of the fishermen are targeting larger sizes T. toli.

Ap r-1

ct -1

Location Batang Lupar Batang Saribas

Sampling date

Hour of No. of fishing trip fishermen May 2010 8 2 October 2010 6 2 October 2009 8 2 August 2010 7 2 Table 1. Sampling trips data

Length of net 1000 m 1000 m 1000 m 1000 m

Specimen collected 0 12 2 4

Table 1 shows the data recorded during sampling trips at the core Terubok area within southwest coast of Sarawak. The specimens collected from Batang Saribas in October 2009 are not included in the 12 month analysis for this study. However, the data is used to obtain the catch rates (number of fish/person/hour) and catch per unit effort (CPUE) (number of fish/1000 m net/ hour) during sampling trips that have been conducted. Catch rates and CPUE of T. toli for both sampling locations during the sampling trips was low overall. Less than one individual of T. toli was estimated to be caught by one person. However, local fishermen stated number of catches during the fishing season of T. toli varied according to the weather and water parameters. Usually, number of catches is small during rainy days and less muddy water condition. This explained the small no of catches obtained during sampling trip in Batang Lupar (May 2010) and Batang Saribas where the temperature of water was low due to rain. Beside that, T. toli are characteristic of large, turbid estuary [5] which explained why the number of catches is small when the water is less muddy. Most of the fishermen are using monofilament gillnet with 75 mm to 100 mm mesh to avoid the catch of smaller T. toli or Empirit. However, data collected in this study shows that Empirit are abundance in the area where fishery of Terubok Laut ( T. macrura) largely occur (large estuary embayment formed by the mouth of Batang Sadong, Batang Lupar, and Batang Saribas). Local fishermen usually smaller mesh size of net for T. macrura fishery (50 mm to 100 mm). This is the reason for higher catches of Empirit early 1996, 1997, and 2011 where during this particular period the fishery of T. macrura is at the peak. The use of smaller than 75 mm for fishery activity within the core Terubok areas should be fully prohibited to increase the number of T. toli population. Other than T. macrura, several fish species are also abundance within the T. toli core areas in the south-west coast of Sarawak namely; Gonjeng ( Coilia sp.), Empirang (Setipinna sp.), Lumek (Harpodon nehereus), Lundu (Arius sp.), etc. CONCLUSION Phillip (2006) stated that the status of T. toli in Sarawak is depleted. However, the study by Phillip (2006) was only focused on the T. toli population in Batang Lassa, Sarikei. There were no previous data on the status of T. toli in Sarawak involving all three core Terubok areas especially the status of T. toli population in Batang Saribas, Sri Aman. Although the data on the population of T. toli in Batang Saribas obtained in this study is inadequate to indicate the specific status of the species population, however from the survey and sampling trips conducted, it is clear that population of T. toli in Batang Saribas is moving toward depletion. Similarly, T. toli population in Batang Lupar is also depleting based on the smaller size range of the species compared to previous study and low catch rates.

Status of T. toli in the south-west coast of Sarawak is depleting similar to the population of the species in Batang Lassa (north-east coast). Overlapping with other species fishery, small mesh size nets and targeting the female fish with roe are among the strongest reason for the depletion of the species. In addition, the agricultural, development, and other anthropogenic activities are causing degradation of the natural environment thus affecting the habitat of T. toli population. Massive management, conservation, protection, and education project should be conducted to replenish the population of T. toli or commercially known as Terubok Sarawak. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT This project is funded by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) under FRGS Research Grant: FRGS/01(10)/707/2009(23). REFERENCES [1] Rajali, H., 1991. Perikanan Terubuk (Tenualosa toli) di Sarawak, Malaysia. Jabatan Perikanan Kementerian Pertanian Malaysia. [2] Phillip, W. P. H. 2001. The Status of Terubok (Tenualosa toli) fishery in Sarawak. International Terubok Conference. Proceedings of the International Terubok Conference Sarawak, Malaysia. Sarawak Development Institutes (SDI). 1:91-99 [3] Phillip, W. P. H. 2006. Working Paper on The Efforts in Conservation & Management of Terubok (Tenualosa toli) Fishery in Sarawak, Malaysia. Seminar on Terubok Conservation 2006 [4] Pang, J. & Boon-Teck, O. 2001. The Culture and Re-Seeding of Terubok ( Tenualosa toli) in Sarawak, Malaysia. Proceedings of the International Terubok Conference Sarawak, Malaysia. Sarawak Development Institutes (SDI). 1:100-111 [5] Mohsin, A. K. M., & Ambak, M. A., 1996. Marine fishes & fisheries of Malaysia and neighbouring countries. Universiti Pertanian Malaysia Press