November 26, 2020

Grouper ban extended for eight more years

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The Nassau Grouper fishing ban in the Cayman Islands has been extended for eight more years.

The ban on fishing Nassau grouper from aggregate sites around the Cayman Islands has been extended another eight years.

“Currently the fishing of spawning aggregations can be likened to going to a hospital’s maternity ward and killing half of the pregnant women and their spouses annually,” the [Marine Conservation Board] says in [a] statement. “While an immigration policy can arbitrarily be adopted to make up for the inevitable shortfall in the local labour force (no pun intended), no such measure can be adopted for the Nassau grouper.”

Members of the board and Caribbean conservationists believe that if the Nassau groupers aren’t protected, they will become extinct.

“They are worth more alive than dead,” not just for their importance to the reef but also for the tourist dollars they can generate,” said conservationists Guy Harvey.

The groupers are considered an icon of the Caribbean because of their colourful personality and size. Many divers pet and name them.

Department of Environment Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie said Nassau groupers are normally solitary and only aggregate when spawning, pointing out that it is possible that the odd one may be caught on the reef by someone who is out fishing in areas where there are no restrictions. In such cases, Mrs. Ebanks-Petrie said there would be no penalty.

The penalty for catching the Nassau grouper in an aggregation spawning site between November and March is up to one year in prison or up to $500,000 in fines.

During the last 25 years, marine parks, conservation and enforcement efforts have led to the Cayman Islands being an example to the rest of the Caribbean of how sincere efforts in this regard can be successful. As a result, the Islands still have places where Nassau Grouper gather and spawn.

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