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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 392:253-262 (2009)  -  DOI:

Effects of an artisanal fishery on non-spawning grouper populations

Philip P. Molloy1,*, John D. Reynolds1, Matthew J. G. Gage2, Isabelle M. Côté1

1Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6, Canada
2Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ, UK

ABSTRACT: Many populations of groupers (Teleostei: Serranidae) are overfished, partly because most species form spawning aggregations that are temporally and spatially predictable and therefore easily targeted by fisheries. However, most grouper fisheries operate year-round, thus there can also be high mortality during non-spawning periods. We investigated the impact of fishing around Anguilla, British West Indies, on a commercially important grouper, the red hind Epinephelus guttatus, during the non-breeding season. We combined information on the spatial intensity of the fishery with underwater surveys of groupers to test for associations between fishing intensity and fish size and density across 19 sites. Red hind density was unrelated to fishing intensity but red hinds were larger in areas that were targeted more intensively by fishers. While these results might be taken to suggest that fishing has no negative impacts on red hind demographics, we present evidence from fish markets that fishing intensity on this species during the non-spawning season is high. A variety of mechanisms may mask site-specific negative impacts on density and size of red hinds. In particular, fishers can easily move among sites to track grouper abundance and body size, thereby making it difficult to detect impacts on red hinds during the non-spawning season.

KEY WORDS: Caribbean · Coral reef · Grouper · Overexploitation · Serranid · Spawning aggregation · Subsistence fishery

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Cite this article as: Molloy PP, Reynolds JD, Gage MJG, Côté IM (2009) Effects of an artisanal fishery on non-spawning grouper populations. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 392:253-262.

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