The impending plight of the endangered Nassau grouper was highlighted in the premier showing of The Mystery of the Grouper Moon on Tuesday.
Marine artist and conservationist Dr. Guy Harvey is trying to convince the Cayman Islands government to extend the eight year fishing ban at the spawning aggregations just west of Little Cayman.
Dr. Harvey, a resident of Grand Cayman appealed to the public, “It will take a combined effort from all the people on these islands to protect the Nassau Grouper.
“People need to speak out and let the government know how important this Caymanian icon is to us. They can also help by not eating grouper and signing the petition that is available in Guy Harvey shops and will be soon taken around local schools.”
The Nassau grouper aggregation site is one of eight active spawning areas left around the Cayman Islands which were severely depleted before the 2003 motion was placed on the area by the Cayman Islands Marine Conservation Board.
The ban is due to expire in December of this year and the film, made by Dr. Harvey and award-winning filmmaker George Schellenger, aims to educate the community on the importance of protecting the endangered species and allowing the Nassau grouper population to recover.
At the first showing of the film there was a furore surrounding Dr Guy Harvey as the masses that attended queued up to meet the inspirational conservationist and get “Protect Nassau Grouper” posters signed.
Dr Harvey said, “We estimate that there are 800 – 3200 Nassau Groupers left at this particular aggregation site. There are several ways to monitor the number of grouper in our waters. We use tagging, photography and sonic transmissions – all of which come up with roughly the same numbers.”
“But if there is one thing, in addition to the fishing ban, that is really bad for the Nassau Grouper it’s lionfish. The public can help by choosing to eat lionfish instead of other endangered species.
“Lionfish are the greenest of the green fish to eat. By consuming more lionfish you help tackle the threat they pose to juvenile reef fish and so in turn save the reef from destruction. Plus they are tasty too.”