Volume 59

Defining the Biogeography of a Spawning Aggregation to Inform Marine Reserve Planning and Evaluation in the Cayman Islands

Semmens, B.X., Bush, P.G., Heppell, S.A., Johnson, B.C., McCoy, C.M.R., Luke, S.K.E., Pattengill-Semmens, C.V., Heppell, S., Whaylen, L.
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Other Information

Date: November, 2006

Pages: 638

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

City: Belize City

Country: Belize


Protections on spawning aggregations are critical to the long-term sustainability of many marine fishes, particularly groupers and snappers. The two biggest stumbling blocks for effective management of marine fish aggregations are: 1) limited information regarding the spatial and demographic influence of aggregation sites (i.e.- how many fish, where are they from, what is their demographic status?), and 2) limited experiences regarding socio-political methods for implementing conservation strategies. We will present results from an acoustic tagging project in the Cayman Islands explicitly designed to evaluate the recent decision to establish known Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus) spawning sites as marine reserves. Our study defines the biogeography of a large spawning aggregation in a group of islands separated by abyssal water, and demonstrates that aggregations can be exclusively and exhaustively representative of local (island-specific) stocks of reproductive-aged fish. Our findings will allow the Cayman Islands government to assess the current and future impacts of protections afforded local spawning aggregations

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