Volume 61

Seasonally-Closed Spawning Aggregation Sites for Red Hind (Epinephelus guttatus): Bermuda’s Experience over 30 years (1974– 2003)

Luckhurst, B.E. and T.M. Trott.
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Date: November, 2008

Pages: 331-336

Event: Proceedings of the Sixty-First Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: Gosier

Country: Guadeloupe


Following the confirmation of two red hind (Epinephelus guttatus) spawning aggregation sites on the Bermuda reef platform in the early 1970s, legislation was enacted to seasonally close these two areas to all fishing for four months (May-August). Following early enforcement problems, there appears to have been general compliance by the fishing industry to the area closures, although periodic poaching continued to occur. Reported landings from the commercial fishery showed a large decline from 1975 (almost 70,000 kg) to 1981 (about 22,000 kg) which was assumed to reflect a decline in population abundance. This was followed by a slower declining trend through the 1980s and in 1990, the use of fish pots was banned. This resulted in reduced catchability as only line fishing was permitted and landings since the Fish Pot Ban have stabilized at a lower level and oscillated in a small range (6,000 – 10,000 kg). Examination of size-frequency distributions over a 30 year period indicate a 13 cm fork length (FL) increase in mean size (1973-74 = 34.9 cm FL; 2001-03 = 47.9 cm FL). Modal size increased from 31 cm FL to 49 cm FL during this same period. Although it is not possible to demonstrate cause and effect, the correlation between the number of years of seasonal area closure and the increase in mean and modal sizes is suggestive of a positive impact of the management action initiated in the 1970s. Some comments about elements of successful management of area closures are included.

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