NURP Research Contributes
to Nassau Grouper Conservation in the Bahamas
This story entered on 5th Jan, 2004 06:10:32
Nassau grouper were once among the
most important fishery species in the wider Caribbean region, but
overfishing has reduced their numbers such that they are now protected
from fishing in State and Federal waters of the US and are on the
IUCN's Red List of endangered species. One of the few places where
stocks support a healthy fishery is in the Bahamas, but even there,
stocks are showing signs of decline.
For the past 15 years, researchers at the Caribbean Marine Research
Center (CMRC), NURP's Center for the Caribbean region, have been
studying Nassau grouper at CMRC's research facility on Lee Stocking
Island, Bahamas. This research has been focused on issues aimed
at helping managers protect or rebuild Nassau grouper stocks.
On December 16 2003, Mr. Michael Braynen, the Director of the Bahamas
Department of Fisheries, announced the first ever closed fishing
season for Nassau grouper in Bahamian waters. This announcement
included the declaration of a closed fishing season for Nassau grouper
for the entire month of January in 2004 and from December 16 2004
until January 16 2005. These annual closed seasons encompass winter
full moon periods when spawning aggregations are likely to form.
Scientific research on Nassau grouper populations conducted
by CMRC researchers played a major role in the decision to close
the 2004 Nassau grouper fishing season.
Highlights of this research include: documentation of declines in
numbers of fish at specific spawning aggregation sites over 12-15
years of fishing them; a trend towards declining recruitment of
juvenile fish into the population; and documentation of individual
fish migrating tens to hundreds of kilometers to spawning aggregation
sites. Ongoing Nassau grouper research at CMRC will focus on further
examinations of their movements to and from spawning aggregation
sites and montoring recruitment, to evaluate the effectiveness of
the closed season.
REPRINTED BELOW IS THE PRESS RELEASE ISSUED BY THE DEPT. OF FISHERIES
(1.) CLOSURE OF FISHING AT HIGH CAY, ANDROS
(2.) CLOSURE OF NASSAU GROUPER FISHING THROUGHOUT THE BAHAMAS
The Department of Fisheries wishes to advise the public that the
waters surrounding High Cay, off the coast of Andros will be designated
as a "Protected Area" during the period of 18th December 2003 to
31st March 2004. During this period all forms of fishing will be
prohibited in this area around High Cay as specified below.
The designated "Protected Area" is bounded in the north by latitude
24°40'N, in the South by Latitude 24° 37.8'N, in the east by Longitude
77° 40.8'W and in the west by Longitude 77° 44'W, and encompassing
an area of approximately seven (7) square miles.
The Department of Fisheries wishes to further advise the public
that the taking, landing, processing, selling and offering for sale
of fresh Nassau Grouper will be prohibited during the periods from
1st January 2004 to 31st January 2004 and from 16th December 2004
to 16th February 2005 throughout The Bahamas.
The above measures are a part of efforts being made to ensure that
the commercial fishery for the Nassau Grouper in The Bahamas will
be sustained in for the benefit of present and future generations
of Bahamian fishermen and consumers.
The Department of Fisheries requests the cooperation of all fishermen
and the general public in this regard. Persons found in violation
of the above will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Name: Craig Dahlgren
Tel: (305) 373-9370