Agencies meet to discuss fish kill incidents in Guam waters

16 August 2012

The Guam Environmental Protection Agency today met with natural resource partners to review and improve the protocol for response to reported “fish kill” incidents.

The group included biologists and managers from Guam EPA, Guam Department of Agriculture, University of Guam’s Marine Lab, University of Guam Sea Grant, Bureau of Statistics and Plans Guam Coastal Management Program and NRCS. A fish kill incident can range from three fish fatalities on the beach to a long stretch of beach with numerous dead fished washed up on shore.

The updated protocol for response will include an extensive public outreach component. In the past nine years, seven fish kill incidents have been reported to the Guam Department of Agriculture. These incidents happen almost annually during the late summer. Many of these situations have been reported by members of the general public.

When a fish kill is reported, biologists or technicians are sent to the scene to investigate. Based on their reports, the Guam Department of Agriculture reports that a majority of these incidents have happened in July and August when low tides occur in the middle of the day. Extremely low tides in the afternoon can cause water temperature to incresase, which can affect fish. July and August are also during rainy season. Large amounts of freshwater can also affect fish by quickly changing the salinity, turbidity and temperature of water.

The group will be developing an online site for the public to report fish kills or other specific environmental issues to natural resource agencies. Reports will be routed immediately to the correct agency for immediate response. The group will also be publicizing contact numbers and locations to report fish kill incidents. General environmental violations can be reported to Guam EPA through our commenting form.

For more information about how to get invovled with reporting fish kill incidents, contact Tammy Jo Anderson Taft at TammyJoAnderson.Taft@epa.guam.gov or by calling 475-1658/59.

The group also discussed the recent fish kill report at Pago Bay.

Although no conclusion can be drawn to the specific cause of death, the group did note the following:

  • The Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PIOOS) monitor at the mouth of the Pago River noted an extreme decrease in salinity and increase in turbidity on Aug. 8. This device has been in place since July.
  • According to Chip Guard, NOAA Weather Forecast Office Guam Warning Coordination Meteorologist, the island has entered rainy season. Guam has had 18.21 inches of rain in August to date. This is 10.5 inches above the average rainfall level for the month. On Aug. 7, rain gauges at the Guam International Airport Authority recorded 4.73 inches of rain. On Aug. 8, they recorded 2.61 inches of rainfall.
  • There was a low tide in the afternoon of Aug. 8.
  • The group also looked at arial views of the Pago Bay watershed and discussed upland erosion that causes sedimentation issues in Pago Bay.