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Fish identification course for fisheries law enforcement officers: Communicating scientific principles and methods where none existed Ofer Gon, Gavin Gouws.

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Presentation on theme: "Fish identification course for fisheries law enforcement officers: Communicating scientific principles and methods where none existed Ofer Gon, Gavin Gouws."— Presentation transcript:

1 Fish identification course for fisheries law enforcement officers: Communicating scientific principles and methods where none existed Ofer Gon, Gavin Gouws and Monica Mwale South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity, Private Bag 1015, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa

2 The Learners DEAT fisheries law enforcement officers Age group: Education: Matric certificate with little or no knowledge of biology

3 Job description – Why do the course? Enforcing fishing regulations (Marine Living Resource Act) through: 1.beach patrols 2.Boat inspections Testifying in court cases of illegal fishers and poachers Must be able to identify the fishes and defend the identification in court

4 Course objectives Learning the different parts (morphology) of the body of the fish Learning to take counts and measurements from a fish specimens and how they are used

5 Fish Morphology

6 Course objectives Understanding certain concepts, eg, scientific names, classification Argyrosomus japonicus Carcharias taurus Classification Family: Sciaenidae Genus: Argyrosomus Species: japonicus Scientific Names

7 Course objectives Learning about and using identification keys – Biological similarity

8 Course programme Tour of SAIAB and the fish collection Internet and library resources Fish morphology and its methodology Working with specimens - practical Day 1

9 Course programme The marine environment Fish systematics (names and classification) Identification keys and how they work Fish identification - practical Day 2

10 Course programme The coelacanth story Fish identification – practical Practical test Days 3 & 4

11 Questionnaire results Class 1 (n=10)Class 2 (n=8)Class 3 (n=8)Class 4 (n=9)Total % YesNoYesNoYesNoYesNoYesNo Met expectations Objectives achieved Lectures, etc. relevant to course Contents relevant Understanding of concepts Difficulty to understand material Gaining knowledge on their own Conducive atmosphere Recommend course to colleagues Lab chairs uncomfortable, sensitivity to alcohol fumes Too scientific, a lot of terminology, course too short Expected learning about particular species

12 Course highlights

13 Course experience Many learners expressed a wish for more courses

14 Teachers observations Learners had inadequate skills in maths – could not calculate percentages without assistance and did not understand proportions They were weak in terms English language reading and comprehension, and general knowledge They had a difficulty with abstract thinking and little analytical skill (at least partly due to language) These weaknesses required much teacher – learner interaction Nevertheless, they were generally highly motivated to increase their knowledge practical skills

15 Conclusions By their own admission, the learners acquired a lot of new knowledge, but they will need more practical experience under supervision to become proficient and confident in fish identification Considering their educational background, the novelty of the subject and the duration of the course the learners performed well There is a need to develop a more user- friendly fish identification tool

16 Acknowledgements We thank management, and members of staff of SAIAB and DEAT for their assistance and support in running the fish identification courses.


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