Categorized | National News

BNT, BREEF Reject Call To Shorten Closed Grouper Season

The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) and the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational
Foundation (BREEF) have both rejected a call by local fisherman to shorten the closed grouper season.

Both organisations say they support the annual closed season, which lasts from December 1 to February 28.

According to BREEF Executive Director, Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, The Bahamas is one of the last remaining strongholds for the Nassau Grouper throughout its geographic range.

“The Nassau grouper is already commercially extinct in many neighbouring countries and is recognised as an endangered species by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). The closed season is critical to ensuring that future generations of Bahamians can enjoy this important fish.”

Bahamas Commercial Fishers Alliance (BCFA) President Adrian LaRoda has asked the government to grant a 30-day extension to the grouper season.

Marine Resources Minister V. Alfred Gray has agreed to raise the issue with Cabinet.

Mr. LaRoda said such an extension would assist fishermen who have suffered losses due to bad weather conditions.

“The BNT hears the concerns expressed by Mr. LaRoda about weather related hardships that fishermen may be facing, but we do not agree that a short-term economic gain at the expense of spawning groupers would be worth the long-term impact that would be wrought as a result,” she said.

“The BNT, therefore, does not support the recommendation to shorten the closed season to allow the harvesting of gravid groupers, and suggests that government not delay the implementation of the closed season for this important species. In fact BNT joins with BREEF to continue to advocate for a more rather than less comprehensive and ecologically significant closed season.”

Mrs. McKinney-Lambert outlined a number of reasons for continuing with a three-month closed season.

“A three-month closure that is consistent from year-to-year and covers the major spawning period (normally December – February) should effectively protect spawning biomass,” she said.

“The Bahamas is probably the last remaining stronghold for the Nassau Grouper throughout its geographic range. As such, effective protection of this species will mean that the Bahamas will likely be the only country where this species can be harvested commercially. Additionally because of this fact there is international attention on and interest in, the condition of the species in the country.”
She continued, “The BNT truly feels that due to the extensive education and outreach done by BREEF, the BNT and the Department of Marine Resources, that fishermen and the general public understand the need for a closed season on this economically important fishery resource.
While fishermen remain concerned about the high level of poaching of grouper that takes
place by Dominican poachers during the closed season, many fisherman have told us that they are seeing positive results from the closed season and also express that they do not want to see our grouper fishery crash, as have others in the region.”

The Bahamas has implemented a country-wide closed season for Nassau grouper since 2004 and over the past several years the closed season has consistently taken place between December 1 and February 28, which is the fish’s peak spawning period.

BREEF, the trust and other conservation organisations have requested that this seasonal closure be permanently legislated, as is the case for crawfish and stone crabs.

“The BNT feels that shortening the closed season would take conservation back a few steps and reverse the great strides that have been made in our efforts to restore the Bahamas grouper population to its former sustainable yield status,” said Eric Carey, executive director of BNT.

“It is our considered view that The Bahamas should be moving toward a permanent legislated closed season to ensure that grouper is protected throughout its reproductive period. We feel that not having a consistent fixed period will lead to confusion and uncertainty and continued requests to postpone the closed season.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Watch JCN Channel 14 Shows

Jcn Channel 14

Sign in now to see your channels and recommendations!

Join Us on Facebook