Status of Multi-Species Spawning Aggregations in Belize

Heyman, W. and Requena, N. (2002) Status of Multi-Species Spawning Aggregations in Belize. [Other peer-reviewed publication]

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    The two goals of this study were to 1. Re-evaluate the status of Nassau Grouper in Belize, and 2. Evaluate if known grouper spawning aggregation sites could be considered as "multi-species spawning aggregation sites" in order to guide the management of these areas as such. Six teams of divers surveyed 12 locations during the period 4-10 January 2002. The teams were comprised of local and international scientists, fishermen, guides and local NGO's, representing the following organizations: Green Reef, Fisheries Department, The Nature Conservancy, Toledo Institute for Development and Environment, Friends of Nature, Belize Audubon Society, and Wildlife Conservation Society. All teams utilized the Belize Reef Fish Spawning Aggregation Protocol (Heyman et al, 2001) for the survey and all sent results to the Nature Conservancy for compilation into this report. The study found that the maximum number of groupers at any site was at northern Glover's Reef at 4,600, a number consistent with the highest number in the 2001 survey. Since recent historical Nassau grouper aggregations numbered in the several tens of thousands at many sites that are now virtually devoid of aggregating groupers, this study concluded that Nassau grouper aggregations and the population is in critical condition throughout Belize, and in need of immediate and drastic management measures. In addition, this study found that all sites were "multi-species" spawning aggregation sites with a mean of 6±7 species recorded in these aggregations during the January 2002 observation period.The Nature Conservancy has been collecting data on multi-species spawning sites throughout Belize from March 1998 throughout July 2002. Using this combined data and including some data gathered from published reports (Paz and Grimshaw, 2001; Sala,Starr and Ballesteros, 2001)that incorporates 159 dives, over 4 years and 16 sites, we calculated a mean of 8±7 species, with from 2-20 species spawning at these sites. These data are considered support for the conclusion that those sites used by Nassau grouper for spawning should be considered, and managed, as multi-species spawning aggregation sites. Given the critical status of Nassau grouper, and the fact that all sites appear to be "multi-species" spawning areas, this report recommends that all 16, known multi-species spawning aggregation sites within Belize be carefully monitored, and closed permanently to fishing. This measure will provide an important contribution to sustainable fisheries management in Belize.

    Item Type: Other peer-reviewed publication
    Related URLs:
      Publisher: The Nature Conservancy
      Keywords: spawning aggregation, multi-species
      Subjects: (A) Biodiversity > (AC) Fish > (ACB) Marine
      (Z) Other or Unspecified
      Publication Sources: (3) Other Source > (3B) NGOs
      Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2011 11:32
      Last Modified: 05 Jan 2011 11:32

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