Volume 60

Lessons learned from Belize Nassau grouper management and possible ways forwards.

Gibson, J.
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Date: November, 2007

Pages: 603-604

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

City: Punta Cana

Country: Dominican Republic


Although Belize has a long history of investigations of its Nassau grouper fishery, action to manage the species was not taken until 2002, in response to a national survey of several spawning sites in 2001 that revealed the low numbers of aggregating Nassau grouper at most of the banks. The National Spawning Aggregation Working Group was established in an attempt to introduce protective legislation that would halt this alarming decline. In 2002, 11 spawning aggregation sites were protected as marine reserves and a four-month closed season was introduced. Despite high expectations for the recovery of the banks as a result of these regulations, the numbers have continued to decline and illegal fishing has been evident at several sites. Protecting the spawning aggregations is obviously a critical step in the protection of this species. We also need to consider the other life history stages, however, and take into account the impact of spear fishing. With the continued decline in numbers, the Working Group is recommending that additional measures be introduced. Furthermore, the Group has recognized the need to provide more assistance for management and enforcement, public awareness, alternative livelihoods, and sustaining the political will at the highest levels to enforce the laws. We have shared some of our successes within the region in terms of monitoring and establishment of our Working Group. Nevertheless, Caribbean-wide action that is supported at the highest level by all countries may be the best hope for the recovery of the species.

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