Grouper conservation an official success

| 07/01/2020 | 28 Comments
Nassau grouper spawning (Photo courtesy Grouper Moon Project)

(CNS): Successful conservation efforts in the Cayman Islands to protect the now critically endangered Nassau grouper have been documented in an academic report, published this week, that underscores how important marine protection can be. The Grouper Moon Project, a joint effort by the Department of Environment and US-based scientists at the aggregate site off Little Cayman, has documented how grouper numbers have recovered and set a scientific precedent to protect large-bodied fish that form spawning aggregations, making them vulnerable to over-fishing.

The research published in PNAS covers work conducted in Cayman waters over 15 years aimed at recovering the collapsed stocks of Nassau grouper. The data shows that the grouper population on Little Cayman has more than tripled in response to the conservation, which saw the former Marine Protection Board place restrictions on taking grouper, seasonal closures and bans on fishing at the hole.

The authors of the important peer-reviewed work said that the Nassau grouper “have undergone a remarkable recovery”, which is due to the implementation of deliberate “science-based conservation strategies”. The scientists said, “Little Cayman is now home to the largest remaining identified Nassau grouper aggregation anywhere in the world. “

The scientific work has helped to prove that well managed marine conservation is essential and can reverse significant declines. While ocean biologists know the targetting of large spawning reef fish has resulted in near extinction for some reef fish around the world, clear evidence that management actions can succeed in reversing dangerous declines have been scarce.

“In this study, we conclusively demonstrate that aggressive FSA protections in the Cayman Islands have resulted in the sustained recovery of an endangered reef fish that was previously on the brink of extirpation,” wrote the authors, which include DoE scientists Croy McCoy, Phillippe Bush and Brad Johnson. “Our work provides clear evidence that Nassau grouper FSAs can recover through concerted management action and effective enforcement and compliance.”

Alongside the important conservation measures and protections, the Grouper Moon Project by REEF (Reef Environmental Education Foundation) and the DoE has also contributed to the preservation efforts and the data collection.

See the recently published work here.

Find out more about the Grouper Moon Project.

See the documentary about the spawning aggregation by REEF below.

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (28)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Why we saving Nassau grouper. Make them save their own and let’s focus on Cayman grouper.

    • Anonymous says:

      8:53 you are joking right? Please tell me this is a joke? You have googled what a Nassau Grouper is yes?

      • Anonymous says:

        Try hush, we should be looking to open a grouper farm in the Brac.

        • Anonymous says:

          10:07 Grouper farming is not practical if even possible at all. It would be very expensive to feed and keep the fish and would take years for them to be a good size to eat. Also where would you source the breeding stock from? They have very specific breeding conditions that are unlikely to be replicated in tanks. Taking fish from the wild population does not solve this problem and would damage the wild population. Try reading up a bit on aquaculture. Plenty of interesting articles and papers out there! Aquaculture isn’t as simple as keeping a goldfish in a bowl.

  2. Anonymous says:

    was in lil cayman in november and spent youth growing up there…i would have to say I Agree! i had to keep releasing them…the numbers are so high! which is excellent….but i dissagree with making whole of lil cay a marine park…we need balance….success can be acieved as is and is evident!!!😕😊

  3. Anonymous says:

    Call Mac, we need a grouper farm!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Let’s do the same now for conch and whelks for a few years … within days of the opening of the season these past few years, there was barely one to be had legally. Let’s not even talk about how much further you now have to go to try to catch decent red snappers, mahi and wahoo …. rest assured a decade from now there will be uproar.. but by then of course it will be too late for a quick recovery.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Is there any hope for the other sites in the Cayman Islands

    • Anonymous says:

      Only if we keep the national season closure in place for another couple of decades. If LilCay took 15 years, figure 10 more for Brac and 10 more after that for Grand. Hopefully.

  6. Hillary says:

    Do not forget the breadfruit.

  7. Anonymous says:

    It will not be a success until some fishing for the grouper is permitted.

    • Anonymous says:

      Success for who exactly? You start fishing them again and they will go right back to the near-depletion levels they were 10 years ago. SMH

      • Anonymous says:

        You completely misunderstood 9:41’s post. It’s a success if there is such an abundance they can be fished again. Perhaps with limits, like conch and lobster.

        • Anonymous says:

          2:35 I didn’t misunderstand anything. Have you looked at our populations of conch and lobster? dangerously over exploited so that’s not really a good example.

        • Anonymous says:

          It will not be a success until the seas are flowing with them. Which means no fishing for some.

    • Anonymous says:

      Fishing for grouper has always been permitted.

      There is a closed season, size limit, and complete ban of fishing at the spawning grounds, which I hope will remain in effect for perpetuity.

      Well done to DoE for implementing this plan, which was sensitive to the needs of fishermen. This shows how successful science-based approaches are.

      Below is an easily found link to fishing limits:

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is fantastic! I’ve eaten many varieties of fish cooked in many different methods, but the Nassau grouper steamed in coconut milk and scotch bonnet will always be my favorite.

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