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4) Evaluate existing fishery regulations and adopt more sustainable fishing methods to reduce the potential for destructive fishing and overharvesting. The amount of fishing pressure and the methods used to capture reef fish appear to be unsustainable. A combination of the large number of fishers and the small aerial extent of coral habitat has made fishing pressure the most significant negative human impact to Pedro Bank coral reefs. Fishers were observed using hookah and spearguns to target parrotfish, also spearing all other large bodied fish and lobsters when encountered. Small mesh fish pots were also deployed throughout and adjacent to reef habitats. These are destructive because they remove a wide diversity of fish, as well as small bodied fish and juveniles. Furthermore, an unusually high numbers of surgeonfish are collected in traps, and these species have declined most between 2005 and 2012. Heavy fishing pressure has also led to a depletion of large piscivores, which may take many years to rebound as nursery habitats for many of these fishes are rare or absent and their recovery is dependent on external sources of larvae. There has also been a substantial reduction in the size of parrotfish, which can have negative consequences on their life history (e.g. sex change at a smaller size). The absence of certain critical nursery habitats near the reef environments (e.g. mangroves) and limited amount of coral reef habitats further exacerbates the problem, possibly reducing the potential for reseeding of the area. Some of the options that should be considered include the elimination of surface supplied air for fishing (e.g. allowing only free-diving when spearfishing), the use of larger mesh sizes for traps, and limits (to increase the minimum size and reduce the overall catch to a more sustainable level) on harvest of certain species of fish, such as herbivores. 5) Complete habitat maps and implement a coral reef monitoring protocol for the areas within the Fish Sanctuary and the surrounding habitats. Pedro Bank would benefit from a more detailed mapping program and long term coral reef monitoring. The current project involved a pilot effort to map the Fishery Reserve using Side Scan Sonar. While this method holds promise, it requires extensive tracks to cover a substantial portion of the bank. Using WorldView-02 satellite imagery in combination with rapid, but comprehensive groundtruthing (e.g. long-distance bathymetric tracks, drop-camera videos), it is possible to develop high resolution bathymetric maps and habitat maps with 12-16 classes in a very efficient and cost-effective manner. These maps can be used for marine spatial planning and delineation of monitoring stations. Through this study, rapid assessments of 20 coral reef locations were obtained. While this effort resulted in a considerable amount of baseline data (and in some cases repeat measurements to document change), it is critical to expand this effort with more rapid assessments and the addition of permanent sites that are reexamined on an annual basis if possible. Sites should be selected within the Sanctuary with similar habitats and depths adjacent to the Sanctuary to determine if the Sanctuary is working.

 

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Profile for Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation

Global Reef Expedition Final Report: Jamaica  

In March of 2012, scientists on the Global Reef Expedition set out to assess the community structure, health, and resilience of corals and c...

Global Reef Expedition Final Report: Jamaica  

In March of 2012, scientists on the Global Reef Expedition set out to assess the community structure, health, and resilience of corals and c...

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