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ESR 20:27-39 (2013)  -  DOI:

Are the last remaining Nassau grouper Epinephelus striatus fisheries sustainable? Status quo in the Bahamas

William W. L. Cheung1,2,*, Yvonne Sadovy de Mitcheson2,3, Michael T. Braynen4, Lester George Gittens

1Fisheries Centre, AERL, 2202 Main Mall, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1E4, Canada
2IUCN Groupers and Wrasses Species Survival Commission Specialist Group
3Swire Institute of Marine Science, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Hong Kong, Pok Fu Lam Road, Hong Kong SAR
4Dept. of Marine Resources, Government of The Bahamas, PO Box N 3028, Nassau, Bahamas

ABSTRACT: Nassau grouper Epinephelus striatus is an important species recreationally, commercially, and for subsistence in the Bahamas. Within most of the species? range, over-exploitation has led to large declines in abundance and to disappearance of spawning aggregations. Nassau grouper is classified as ?Endangered? on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The population(s) in the Bahamas is/are considered to be among the few remaining major Nassau grouper populations globally. However, the recent declining trend in the number of fish landed raises concerns about the sustainability of the Bahamas? population(s). In this study, we provide an appraisal of the current status of the fisheries and explore the potential effects of different fishery and conservation management scenarios on the Nassau grouper population and the fisheries. The study uses existing biological and fishery data together with fishers? knowledge on fisheries collated from an interview survey. The results suggest that the population is now fully- to over-exploited and under decline, although this needs to be validated when more fishery and population data have been collected and analyzed. A precautionary approach to managing the Bahamas? Nassau grouper is to maintain spawning aggregation closures, and to improve the monitoring, control, and surveillance to address poaching. Also, fishing mortality rates should be reduced to below the 1998?2001 level during non-spawning aggregation periods. These measures will increase spawning potential and maximize the long-term economic benefits of the fisheries. Other potential threats to the Nassau grouper population, such as the invasion of lionfish, increased use of compressors, and the taking of immature fish, should be monitored and assessed.

KEY WORDS: Nassau grouper · Fisheries · Bahamas · Spawning aggregation · Closure · Stock assessment

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Cite this article as: Cheung WWL, Sadovy Y, Braynen MT, Gittens LG (2013) Are the last remaining Nassau grouper Epinephelus striatus fisheries sustainable? Status quo in the Bahamas. Endang Species Res 20:27-39.

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