Volume 69

Preliminary Analysis of Size Differences of Queen Triggerfish, Balistes vetula,Across Island Shelves and Gear Types in the US Virgin Islands

Thomas, S., V. Shervette, and R. Nemeth
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Date: November, 2016

Pages: 288 - 292

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

City: Grand Cayman

Country: Cayman Islands


The Queen Triggerfish, Balistes vetula, is one of the most popular commercial fishes in St. Thomas and St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands (USVI). This species can comprise up to 10 - 15% of annual reef fish landings. St. Thomas is located on the Puerto Rican shelf approximately 40 miles north of St. Croix, which is a separate geographic feature on a small, insular plat-form. Depth of water between the two shelves exceeds 4,000 m. Fishing gear also differs between islands; St. Thomas commercial fishers only use traps while gear use by St. Croix fishers is diverse, using spear guns on SCUBA, traps, or a combination. Monthly samples were collected from fishers on both islands using multiple gear types in order to test for differences in the average size across island shelves and fishing method. When comparing gear types, there was no significant difference in mean lengths found between trap and spear fish in St. Croix, suggesting different gear types may be catching similar size individuals. Across islands, our data shows commercially caught fish in St. Croix are significantly smaller than St. Thomas fish. It is possible this difference among islands is caused by the differing geographical conditions across the shelf types and heavier fishing pressure in St. Croix. If varying islands are landing different sizes, the USVI Queen Triggerfish fishery may need multiple management strategies based on location, taking into account differing physical island shelves and fishing practices.

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