Most Read Contributor in Cayman Islands, September 2016
The Department of Environment (DoE) is working with Marine
Conservation International (MCI) to track marine predators that
have been tagged as part of an ongoing local research project.
The aim of the project is to inform local management efforts for
threatened species, particularly sharks, snappers and groupers. DoE
Senior Research Officer John Bothwell also noted the project hopes
to address sustainable fishing practices in the Cayman Islands.
'While sharks are now completely protected in all Cayman
waters, we still fish for, and want to be able to keep fishing
sustainably for, snappers and groupers. To do this, we need to work
with the public to help us manage these species', he said.
The DoE states as Cayman's human population continues to
increase, the number of people trying to catch fish also is on the
rise. According to the DoE, more research is needed to make sure
that snappers and groupers are not overfished.
Part of the project entails researchers catching fish and
inserting an acoustic tag, in order to track movements through a
series of research hydrophones, located around all three
Fish are also tagged with small white beads and the DoE is
asking for public feedback if the tagged fish are caught or
photographed. There is also a reward for the return of the acoustic
tags, located in the belly of the fish.
The DoE encourages persons photographing marine predators to
post the image on social media with the hashtag #SpotThatCayFish.
Additional information should be provided, namely the
submitter's name, date, time of day and the name/location of
the dive or snorkel site. From there, MCI officials will identify
the fish and study its migration patterns.
'While all species on the reef are important, these top
marine predators influence the population structures of other reef
organisms', said MCI researcher Pete Davies. 'They play an
important role in affecting the behaviour of other species. Big
snappers, groupers and sharks are a crucial part of a complex
system. There is a lot we can learn about these fish from the tags
and the photos.
'I'm talking to as many fishers as possible about their
experiences with these species, to get a better idea of their
distribution, especially lagoon and mutton snappers, and tiger
groupers. This information from the fishers and divers will help us
better understand the fish', he said.
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