Volume 55

The Use of Fish Traps in Puerto Rico: Current Practice, Long-term Changes, and Fisher’s Perceptions

Scharer, M.T.; Prada, M.C.; Appeldoorn, R.S.; Hill, R.L.; Sheridan, P.F.; Valdés-Pizzini, M.
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Other Information

Date: 2004

Pages: 744-756

Event: Proceedings of the Fifty Fifth Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: Xel Ha

Country: Mexico


Traps are used extensively by artisanal fishers in the Caribbean for catching fishes and crustaceans in diverse habitats. An interdisciplinary study incorporating fisher knowledge and quantitative field surveys was employed to study current trap fishing practices in Puerto Rico in order to provide up to date information to managers and researchers. Here, we report on trap fishing methods today and fishers' perception of current trends and some problems affecting the resource of Puerto Rico. Forty-seven trap fishers representing 5 regions (North, South, East, West, and Islands) were interviewed on site about gear construction, effort, habital preferences and fishers' perceptions of the main problems in the fishery and their possible solutions. Materials used in fish trap construction have been changing, over time; however, the main routine for setting traps remains generally the same with some localized variations. Despite its traditional dominance, more than half of fishers have reduced their number of traps; therefore individual effort seems to be declining. Coral reefs were not reported as a preferred fish trap location, but rather areas adjacent to reefs (sand, seagrass, hard-bottom, and algal habitats) are targeted. The main problems reported by fishers in Puerto Rico are trap loss and habitat degradation, problems that correspond to increasing coastal development. Additionally, conflicts among users have promoted the use of unbuoyed traps, which in turn may lead to an increase in ghost fishing impacts. Ghost traps are known to continue fishing long after they are lost and may be causing undetermined effects on fishing grounds. Suggestions to alleviate some problems include enforcement of environmental regulations and zoning schemes.

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