By: JOSHUA LAFOAI/Loop Samoa

Over the weekend, dozens of people spent hours at sea to catch a much sought after delicacy known as palolo worms or Samoan palolo worms.

The palolo worms (Palola viridis) rise to the surface once a year in the last quarter of the moon in October and November and in the early hours of the morning where they are caught with nets.

However, this year fishermen observed a decline in their catch from last year.

Some called the local radio stations to express their disappointment and offered their views for the decline.

Today a small ball or ‘ofu’ Palolo sold for $50 tala at the market and some people claimed it is the selling of fish that has led to the decline in the catch of palolo worms.

However, Climate Change adviser for SPREP Espen Ronneberg says it could be more technical as well.

“There could be a few factors contributing to the decline of the catch. Temperature as well as ocean acidification. Non-climate change factors could also be at play, such as sediments from the islands,” he said.

Ronneberg says a lack of information on palolo is a sign that research is needed on it.

As a matter of fact he says there is no known data kept or research on the expensive delicacy in Samoa or anywhere.

“There has been a big study on climate change and fisheries carried out by SPC, FFA and others, but that did not much consider species like palolo. It was more on Tuna, Wahoo, and other pelagic fish, as well as near food species like snapper and others,” he added.

“So it may mean an area of study for the authorities to look at to compile data and see what they come up with. So obviously there needs to be studies on it, maybe comparing catches from different areas with observations from the marine protected areas,” he said.

Ronneberg says the effects of climate change especially with oceans acidification cannot be ruled out as part of the reason less and less palolo surface each year.

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