Volume 71

Deeper Water Fauna Caught Incidentally in the Puerto Rico Fishery

Michelle T. Schärer-Umpierre;Noemi Peña-Alvarado;Steve G. Smith;Richard Appeldoorn;Jerald S. Ault
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Date: November, 2018

Pages: 197-199

Event: Proceedings of the Seventy Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: San Andres Island

Country: Colombia


Rocky reef habitats of deep (50 to 500 m) insular slopes of the Caribbean support a diverse assemblage of fishes. In Puerto Rico these areas support a highly valuable fishery, yet information regarding the biodiversity of these habitats is scarce. The purpose of this study is to document the species composition as well as the abundance and distribution of fish captured by the commercial fishery in three regions off Puerto Rico. Collections of specimens were made from landings and during standardized fisheries-independent surveys of vertical hook and line gear of 300 sites selected in a random stratified (depth and two habitat types) approach. Trained observers collected data on the size (fork length and girth) of each fish caught and kept specimens or tissue samples for species identification via DNA barcoding. Preliminary results revealed at least 42 species, 34 of 17 fish families and eight shark species of eight families. Of the species documented 12 (seven snappers and five groupers) are targeted for local markets and the remaining species could be considered incidental catch, some of which are landed and marketed, yet others are discarded. Some of these fish are well recognized by fishers and have local common names, yet they could include new reports for the region. The resulting collections will provide much needed specimens that expand the current knowledge of deep-water species and could help delineate strategies to reduce incidental catches. Characterizing the fish community subject to capture from mesophotic, rariphotic and upper aphotic habitats provides information that could be applied towards ecosystem-based management in the region

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