Volume 72

Expanded biological data collection of Dominica key commercial fish species in support of sustainable management

Theophille, D; G. H. Engelhard; J. K. Pinnegar; N. J. Norris; R. D. Sebastien
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Date: November, 2019

Pages: 372

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

City: Punta Cana

Country: Dominican Republic


In Dominica, fisheries – which are generally small-scale and artisanal in nature, with almost all catches sold and consumed locally – face a number of challenges. Not only has Dominica recently been hit repeatedly by storms and hurricanes, notably Hurricane Maria in 2017 causing country-wide damage including to the fisheries sector; but also, some coastal or reef fisheries have faced declining catch rates. This has been partly offset by an offshore displacement of fishing effort, towards large, migratory pelagic species, caught with the aid of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs). In order to build resilience to climate change and long-term prosperity in the fisheries sector, healthy, well-managed fish stocks are key, therefore requiring comprehensive data collection. We initiated a biological sampling programme of fish species caught by Dominican fishermen, and sampled at major and minor landing sites around the island. We measured the lengths of 3007 fishery species, representing 90 species, with weight measurements for the majority of samples. The resulting dataset is the first to provide a picture of size distributions for commercial fish species in Dominica. Preliminary analyses highlight that for Dominica’s commercially most important species, dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus), most individuals measured (99%) were above length-at-maturity, and medium to large individuals of other pelagic species generally prevailed. For some reef species, however, many small individuals were caught and landed (e.g., 71% below size-at-maturity in sampled blackfin snapper (Lutjanus buccanella). The preliminary findings are supportive of the recent change in emphasis of Dominica fisheries away from fishing in coastal, inshore reef waters towards either fishing further offshore for large pelagics, or for small coastal pelagics.

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