Recommendations for a Caribbean Regional Conservation Strategy for Reef Fish Spawning Aggregations

Luckhurst, B. E. (2002) Recommendations for a Caribbean Regional Conservation Strategy for Reef Fish Spawning Aggregations. Technical Report.

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    Most of the species in the grouper family (Serranidae) and snapper family (Lutjanidae) form spawning aggregations (SPAGs) at predictable times and places which makes them highly vulnerable to fishing pressure. When fishermen locate these sites, they are able to greatly enhance their catch rates of these species due to increased catchability. As these SPAGs often represent most of the total annual reproductive output of the population, the reduction in population abundance caused by heavy fishing pressure can have serious ecological and socio-economic consequences. Following a review of the current status of known SPAGs in the greater Caribbean region, the existing fishery management measures presently in effect with respect to SPAGs are outlined. The recommendations for a Caribbean Regional Conservation Strategy for Reef Fish Spawning Aggregations are made to mitigate the effects of overfishing of SPAGs. They are generally listed in priority order but should be adapted to the specific conditions found at each site: 1) Eliminate fishing mortality at vulnerable SPAG sites. A sense of urgency should be invoked for management /conservation action. 2) Incorporate known SPAG sites into planning programs for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to provide permanent protection of SPAG sites. 3) Develop and implement monitoring programs involving scientists and user groups within the community to evaluate the effect of management /conservation measures. 4) Develop community-based management programs for SPAG sites to the fullest extent possible. Full participation in the management process by all of the user groups affected by management measures will greatly increase the probability of success. 5) Provide viable economic alternatives to those user groups who are displaced from SPAG sites as a result of management action. 6) If permanent or temporary closure of SPAG sites cannot be implemented, then gear restrictions should be applied to reduce catchability. 7) If other forms of restriction of fishing activity at SPAGs cannot be implemented, then use economic/market measures such as sales or export restrictions. Specific recommendations for SPAG conservation action are made for countries in the Caribbean Division of The Nature Conservancy: Belize, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, US Virgin Islands, Dominica, Cuba and the Bahamas. An implementation plan for the regional strategy is outlined which invokes the use of the electronic media and the Internet to disseminate information about SPAGs as well as the collection of information from veteran fishermen to establish an historical perspective. Involvement with MPA design and siting with respect to SPAGs and the use of remote sensing images to predict the location of SPAGs in the region is also recommended.

    Item Type: Technical Reports (Technical Report)
    Related URLs:
      Keywords: reef fish, spawning, aggregations,
      Subjects: (A) Biodiversity > (AC) Fish > (ACB) Marine
      Publication Sources: (3) Other Source > (3B) NGOs
      Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2010 14:55
      Last Modified: 20 Jan 2011 14:51

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