Department of Environmental Protection appeals for assistance in Black Grouper study

Department of Environmental Protection appeals for assistance in Black Grouper study

From the Bermuda Government website

The Department of Environmental Protection today issued an appeal for members of the public, especially commercial and recreational fishermen, to assist in the Department’s study of Black Grouper in Bermuda waters.

During June and July, Department staff have been catching Black Grouper and implanting acoustic tags into the belly of the fish before releasing them back into the ocean. These tags transmit a signal that can be detected by a special receiver which has been placed underwater. External yellow “spaghetti” tags, three inches long, have also been inserted into the muscle just under the soft dorsal fin on both sides of the fish.

The placement of additional acoustic tags in Black Grouper and additional underwater receivers will continue in August.

Black Grouper, like most large grouper species, aggregate to spawn (reproduce). These spawning aggregations occur at predictable times and places making the species particularly vulnerable to overfishing as catch rates are very high at these sites.

The study site is in a seasonally protected area which normally will remain closed to fishing until August 31st.
The aim of the study is to assess the effectiveness of the seasonally protected area closures by learning more about how Black Grouper use these areas, including where they aggregate to spawn and how long they remain at the aggregation site(s). The evidence gathered will be used to determine whether or not the period of closure at the study site should be extended to protect this grouper species. The data collected will also be useful in assessing the effectiveness of this and other seasonally protected areas. The current study is expected to last about 3 years.

Director of Environmental Protection Dr. Fred Ming said: “This study is vitally important in learning more about this important species so that we can ensure their continued survival in Bermuda’s waters.”

Any fisherman who catches a Black Grouper should check for the external yellow tags that identify the fish as an acoustically tagged fish. Fishermen are strongly encouraged to release tagged fish and to notify the Department of the external tag numbers. However, if the fish is retained, all tags (external and internal) should be returned to the Department of Environmental Protection headquarters in the Botanical gardens or to the Marine Resources Section Office on Coney Island. Whether the fish is released or retained, the fishermen should also inform the Department of the date of capture and location (lat/long) and depth of water in which the fish was caught. Divers can also assist by reporting any sightings of black grouper with the external yellow tags.

The public is reminded that there is a bag limit of one (1) Black Grouper per boat per day.

For more information, please contact the Acting Senior Marine Resources Officer, Dr. Tammy Trott, on 293 5600 ext 2225.


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