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DoE urges conservation of dwindling fish stocks

| 21/11/2016 | 20 Comments

(CNS): With a number of changes at this time of year over what people can and cannot take from the sea, the Department of Environment (DoE) is urging everyone not to poach and help protect the country’s dwindling fish stocks. Restrictions on take have been put in place as a means of ensuring the long-term and sustainable use of our marine resources, officials said this week as the conch season opened and the Nassau grouper season closed.

“While we still have one of the largest Nassau grouper populations among the known spawning aggregations remaining in the Caribbean, we have effectively lost over half of our traditional spawning aggregations in the Cayman Islands,” said DoE Research Officer Bradley Johnson. “Fishing on a spawning aggregation is not and never has been sustainable for any level of take, as shown by DoE’s research, as well as the decline of spawning aggregations across the region.”

The rules for Nassau grouper have undergone significant changes and no one is allowed to take them  anywhere in Cayman waters from 1 December to 30 April. As the weather cools, Nassau grouper begin to aggregate in preparation for spawning early in the New Year. These annual aggregations have made the species susceptible to overfishing.

“The current regulations are meant to ensure that we have Nassau grouper on our reefs into the future,” said Johnson. He explained that this is the same strategy applied to other marine species like conch and lobster. During the open season people may take up to five Nassau grouper from Cayman waters per boat per day.

In August of this year, improvements were also made to the regulations affecting other fish species, which make both take and possession illegal outside of the open seasons. This means that the person poaching marine life and whoever buys or uses it is also committing an offence.

“This is a loophole that our officers, and the public who support conservation, have struggled with for a while and we are happy it has been resolved,” said DoE Chief Conservation Officer Mark Orr observed.

Everyone is encouraged to make themselves aware of the full provisions of the regulations. The DoE is distributing free Conservation Rules Brochures at a variety of places around all three islands and these brochures may also be downloaded from the website.

Another tool developed to help the public stay informed is an app for iPhones and Android smartphones. While this is still a Beta version of the app, some of the features include interactive maps that allow the public to know where they are located in relation to the marine park zones, what the rules are in the area in which they are located, and the ability to send feedback to DoE on anything they deem to be important or of concern. The app can be downloaded by searching the smartphone store for ‘Cayman DoE’ and people are encouraged to report any technological glitches so that they can be rectified.

“We know that enforcement will always be an issue with any law and that our efforts will always be constrained by the number of officers we are able to employ,” said DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie. “So we have to work smarter, both through the use of technology and by trying to ensure that our regulations are structured to optimise conservation objectives and enforcement capability.”

The public is reminded that the app is still a form of electronic communication and, as such, if there is an urgent situation they should either report the matter to 911 or directly to DoE at the following numbers:

  • Grand Cayman: 916-4271
  • Cayman Brac: 926-013
  • Little Cayman: 916-7021

See more details of catch limits and seasons in the CNS Library

Tags: ,

Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (20)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    i was told live aboard dive boats crew take lobster y conch regularly. along with grouper? especially in grand cay and little csyman….a little bird told me…..actually a very credible source….




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    • Anonymous says:

      pity your little bird can’t call 911. Or is all they ‘know’ just as admissible in court as a parrot squawking in a cage?




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  2. Anonymous says:

    Having lived and fished in Florida all of my life, I can add empirical comments. I have seen fisheries across the spectrum dwindle and recoup until recent years when smarter fishing techniques are employed. With GPS, WASS enabled, you can locate and return to the same rock over and over. Sonar with CHIRP technology can find areas that were previously unknown. Side shooting sonar will find spots that previously were driven right past.Fish can no longer hide. With commercial limits in the tonnes of fish, it’s hard to see how any species survives. But somehow they do.
    My take on all of it is to shut down a Fishierie when it’s breeding time. Limit the number of breeding size fish even to commercial fishing. Beef up inspections on recreational and commercial boats and impose stiff fines accordingly to violators.
    No, this is not a cure all and some of these ideas are in play now but not proportioned appropriately.
    The battle will rage on and so will poorly designed regulations.




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  3. Anonymous says:

    Wow!! You’ve been working for ISSIS or what???? Yes, when the population was small there was plenty of fish to go around. Fast forward 20 years, Lion fish out of control, too many people taking the juvenile fish, too many restaurant serving fish. All of the above runnning a mock on this Little Rock.




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  4. Anonymous says:

    Laws in the land of no law enforcement.




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  5. Anonymous says:

    talking to fishermen about conversation is like banging your head against a brick wall…..




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  6. Anonymous says:

    Really, give us all a break, dwindling fish stocks are simply a result of the uncontrollable infestation of lion fish decimating our marine environment which the DOE and the NCC has done nothing about for over 20 years. Another example of the incompetence of the great protectors of the marine environment. It’s been out of control for so many years, just like the green iguanas and only now are they making a comment of alarming proportions of the problem.




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    • I call BS says:

      If lionfish are the only reason for dwindling fish stocks then how come Little Cayman has an abundance of marine life (including lionfish)?

      Your comment is pure fiction and Little Cayman is all the proof we need that the human impact of overfishing is causing the majority of the damage.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Please don’t anger the ignorant. Remember that they got here first. Then wiped out all the fish and turtles before they realized there was no one else to blame.




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  7. Anonymous says:

    I get so tired of seeing that poachers are being caught but nothing is being done about it. In Canada or U.S.A poachers have their vehicles, boats, all equipment that was used confiscated and a fine and or jail sentence. Start publishing and making it known what is being done to these repeat offenders to make them stop!




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    • LD says:

      Who the daddy be?




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    • Anonymous says:

      But then, in Canada or the USA, every Immigrant cannot take fish or other sea life with impunity and without licences, including when scuba diving.
      Does DoE care to state the cases of discrimination against locals, where they target and search local boaters, while ignoring the non-locals in the same area, at the same time?




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  8. Mangrove says:

    Digging up the reef next to the Kimpton or the new piers will not help the situation!! Please do not place the blame on poachers. Anyone to blame are the greedy developers and politicians!




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  9. Anonymous says:

    There are a lot of fish that shouldn’t be on the menu. Grouper is just one of them.




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  10. Anonymous says:

    boy them nassau grouper head sweet! lightly steamed along with yam y sweet potatoes. man them locals still taking them…especially the younger generation. as a fisherman i know. theyspearing them…..not enough resources to police the reefs…and need tougher penalties for breaches of the law….




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  11. Anonymous says:

    Call me barbaric if you want, but we need to start cutting off the hands of repeat offenders. Career poachers will not stop after being fined or imprisoned and this is the only viable deterrent left. If we try and be politically correct about saving the environment we won’t have anything left to save in the near future.

    Career poachers hands VS saving the natural environment… I know which one I will pick!




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