Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Royal Gazette Article on MPAs

Scientist: Bermuda could lead the way on conservation
September 30, 2008

By Amanda Dale


Photo by Glenn Tucker Marine conservationist Dr. Callum Roberts,0p who advises governments around the world on the creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

Bermuda could lead the way in preserving the marine life of the world's oceans, according to a UK professor.

Dr. Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of York, says up to 40 percent of the Island's waters could be set aside as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), enabling fish stocks and ecosystems to thrive.

"Bermuda could lead the way in conservation," said Dr. Roberts. "It has already led the way with the fish pot ban and in protecting parrotfish and coral reefs, but needs to go further."

Dr. Roberts said that due to the Island's geographic location, any overfishing made species more vulnerable to dying out — the Nassau Grouper being a prime example.

"You have an isolated reef system and so if something was to go wrong, it would go wrong badly and it would take a long time to recover from these mistakes," he said.

"So moving towards 40 percent protection through marine reserves may be warranted in the long term.

"More protection is needed to recover some of the species which have been depleted, and that protection is vital to protect Bermuda's marine life and fisheries."

Dr. Roberts gave a public lecture at BUEI last week as a guest of the Bermuda Zoological Society. His book 'The Unnatural History of the Sea' charts 1,000 years of human exploitation of the world's oceans, including modern industrial fishing methods such as trawling.

The world-renowned marine conservationist advises governments around the globe on the importance of establishing MPAs to prevent overfishing and its repercussions on marine ecosystems.

He recommends MPAs should be established to cover 20-40 percent of our oceans.

"The world's oceans are at the most dangerous levels they have ever been in the history of life on Earth," Dr. Roberts told an audience at BUEI.

"We can look back with great regret but we shouldn't beat up on ourselves for not being able to stop it. Now we need to concentrate on what we should do today. We can create the conditions for recovery of marine life by creating areas free from exploitation."

Dr. Roberts said some MPAs have seen a five to tenfold increase in species within 10-20 years.

"Reserves all over the world have shown dramatic increases," he said. "It does work — you get a very significant increase in fish, particularly within two to five years of protection."

He gave MPAs in Mombasa in Kenya, Merritt Island in Florida and in St. Lucia as examples. Eventually the growing populations spill out of the protected reserves into other areas, while fish larvae dispersal also helps to replenish fishing grounds.

Dr. Roberts told The Royal Gazette: "We've got to turn the clock back by re-establishing refuges in the sea where our fish can survive in growing numbers."

In Bermuda he recommends 40 percent of the Island's waters be established as MPAs, due to the "limited" replenishment of fish stocks.

"One of Bermuda's problems is that a lot of larvae produced on the platform is predisposed to being swept away. If you're an isolated reef system, a lot of that system may just take it out to the blue beyond and so it is not going to lead to the repopulation of Bermuda's fish."

Dr. Roberts praised the creation of Protected Areas at dive sites and Coral Reef Preserves as "good progressive legislation" but said more needed to be done.

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"The focus in Bermuda needs to move towards more protection and it will take political leadership to move that forward," he said.

"There's a lot of talk now to establish MPAs out on the open ocean, so Bermuda has great potential to be a leader here, to protect larAge-scale oceanic resources with a protected area in your EEZ.

"It won't be straight-forward to implement but it is worth doing — to have such a jewel in the crown of conservation on your doorstep.

"I would say to Government be bold, be ambitious, go for something which is world-class in terms of conservation and secure your place as a leader in ocean management. Such MPAs would lead the curve in the management of marine resources around the world."

Dr. Roberts added: "Your reserve network should be representative of the full spectrum of biodiversity, from the deep sea and slopes of the platform, to shallow seagrass beds, spawning aggregate sites and coastal mangroves.

"In Bermuda mangrove forests are very scarce so they probably warrant total protection, but for the coral reef environment there's a lot of reefs out there so it would be sufficient to protect a small proportion of that."

Sunday, September 28, 2008

BREAM Eagle Ray Researchers in the News

A baby eagle ray, born during the tagging of its mother

BREAM Research, funded partially by BZS, into the population structure and feeding ecology of Bermuda's own Eagle Rays (also called Whip Morays locally) continued last week.

Project coordinator and PhD student Matt Ajemian, with assistance from PhD student Matt Kenworthy, and support from BREAM and the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo, were busy collecting tracking sensor data loggers, tagging rays, collecting gut contents and listening for sonic-tagged rays around Harrington Sound and out into the lagoon and around Riddles Bay last week.

A nice Bermuda Sun news article came out Friday September 27th about the project: see link here

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Complicated Interactions Amongst Corals Species

The above photo shows the complexity that can occur when coral cover is high and many species are in contact with each other.

At least four species of coral can be seen interacting through competitive, mutualistic and neutral interactions within and between species, as well as with soft corals and a red alga.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Competition for space between 2 corals

[click photo to enlarge]

Hard corals compete for space on reefs with other benthic organisms, including other corals (e.g. Lang 1973, Logan 1984).

The photograph above shows a star coral (Montastraea frankesi) overgrowing a brain coral (Diploria strigosa) on a patch reef in the North Lagoon at 3-m depth. The star coral uses stinging tentacles at night to kill and eat the tissue of the brain coral, creating the gap of bare space along the edge between the two corals we can see in the photograph. The star coral then grows new polyps to cover the bare space.

Understanding how corals compete is important, as interactions between coral species are one of many factors that influence the number of species found on a coral reef, its overall rate of growth or erosion, and the availability of small holes for fish and other animals to hide in.
  • Lang, J. (1973). Interspecific aggression by scleractinian corals. 2. Why the race is not only to the swift. Bull. Mar. Sci. 23: 260-279
  • Logan A. (1984) Interspecific aggression in hermatypic corals from Bermuda. Coral Reefs 3: 131-138.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Buoyed Protected Areas Locations


The following areas are declared to be protected areas for the purposes of section 4 of the Fisheries Act 1972:

1 "Cristobal Colon" located 32o 29.1'N, 64o 42.5'W
- the area within 300 metres radius of a mooring buoy at the wreck of the "Cristobal Colon";

2 "North East Breaker" located 32o 29.0'N, 64o 42.5'W
- the area within 300 metres radius of the North East Breaker beacon;

3 "Taunton" located 32o 29.5'N, 64o 41.5'W
- the area within 300 metres radius of a mooring buoy at the wreck of the "Taunton";

4 "Aristo" located 32o 28.5'N, 64o 39.4'W - the area within a 300 metres radius of a mooring buoy at the wreck of the "Aristo";

5 "Mills Breaker" located 32o 24.6'N, 64o 37.8'W -
the area within 300 metres radius of Mills Breaker beacon;

6 "Pelinaion" & "Rita Zovetto" located 32o 21.3'N,64o 38.4'W
- the area within 500 metres radius of a mooring buoy at the wrecks of the vessels "Pelinaion" and "Rita Zovetto";

7 "The Cathedral" located 32o 19.6'N, 64o 39.4'W
- the area within 300 metres radius of the mooring buoy at the site known as the Cathedral;

8 "Kate" located 32o 19.4'N, 64o 41.7'W
- the area within 300 metres radius of a mooring buoy at the wreck of the vessel "Kate";

9 "Tarpon Hole" located 32o 16.2'N, 64o 46.6'W
- the area within 300 metres radius of a mooring buoy at the site known as Tarpon Hole;

10 "Hermes" & "Minnie Breslauer" located 32o 14.4'N, 64o 47.4'W
- the area within 500 metres radius of the mooring buoy at the wrecks of the vessels "Hermes" and "Minnie Breslauer";

11 "Marie Celeste" located 32o 14.5'N, 64o 49.9'W
- the area within 300 metres radius of a mooring buoy at the wreck of the "Marie Celeste";

12 "South West Breaker Area" located 32o 13.8'N, 64o 51.8'W
- the area within 600 metres radius of a mooring buoy at South West Breaker;

13 "North Carolina" located 32o 15.6'N, 64o 57.5'W
- the area within 300 metres radius of a mooring buoy at the wreck of the "North Carolina";

14 "Airplane" located 32o 15.2'N, 64o 58.6'W
- the area within 300 metres radius of a mooring buoy at the wreck of the airplane;

15 "Blanche King" located 32o 16.3'N, 64o 58.5'W
- the area within 300 metres radius of a mooring buoy at the wreck of the "Blanche King";

16 "Darlington" located 32o 17.2'N, 64o 59.0'W
- the area within 300 metres radius of a mooring buoy at the wreck of the "Darlington";

17 "L'Herminie" located 32o 19.1'N, 64o 58.5'W
- the area within 300 metres radius of a mooring buoy at the wreck of the "L'Herminie";

18 "Vixen" located 300 metres west of Daniel's Head, Sandys
- the area within a 100 metres radius of the wreck "Vixen";

19 "Commissioner's Point Area" being the area within a 200 metres radius of a stake located at
32o 19.72N, 64o 49.93W and bounded on the south-west and south-east by the shore;

20 "Lartington" located 32o 21.8'N, 64o 54.8'W
- the area within 300 metres radius of a mooring buoy at the wreck of the "Lartington";

21 "Constellation Area" located 32o 21.8'N, 64o 54.8'W
- the area within 500 metres radius of a mooring buoy at the wreck of the "Constellation";

22 "Montana" located 32o 21.7'N, 64o 54.8'W - the area within 300 metres radius of a mooring buoy at the wreck of the "Montana";

23 "Eastern Blue Cut" located 32o 23.4'N, 64o 53.1'W
- the area within 600 metres radius of a mooring buoy at Eastern Blue Cut;

24 "Xing Da Area" located 32o 25.0'N, 64o 54.4'W
- the area within a 200 metres radius of a mooring at the wreck of the "Xing Da";

25 "Snake Pit" located 32o 26.5'N, 64o 50.3'W
- the area within 300 metres radius of a mooring buoy at the area called Snake Pit;

26 "Hog Breaker" located 32o 27.5'N, 64o 49.8'W
- the area within 300 metres radius of a mooring buoy at Hog Breaker;

27 "Caraquet" located 32o 27.7'N, 64o 50.1'W
- the area within a 300 metres radius of a mooring buoy at the wreck of the "Caraquet";

28 "Madiana" located at 32o 27.5'N, 64o 48.5'W - the area within 300 metres radius of a mooring buoy at the wreck of the "Madiana";

29 "North Rock" located at 32o 28.5'N 64o 46.1'W
- the area within 1,000 metre radius of the North Rock beacon.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Great News: Black grouper fishing ban extended


From the Royal Gazette: September 5. 2008 08:50AM
Black grouper fishing ban extended

By Amanda Dale

Government has extended the summer fishing ban on black grouper after research revealed the fish continues to spawn beyond August.

Environment Minister El James yesterday announced the closure of a section of the Northeastern Seasonally Protected Area to all fishing activities from September 1 to November 29.

A Government spokesman said: "The protected area is usually closed from May 1 to August 31 each year in order to protect red hind and black grouper — also known as black rockfish, that aggregate to spawn in the area.

"However, recent studies carried out by the Department of Environmental Protection indicate that the rockfish continue to aggregate in the area to spawn beyond the end of August."

The notice is issued under Section 4A of the Fisheries Act 1972 and states: "Take notice that the Minister responsible for the Environment, being satisfied that there is an immediate need for the prohibition of fishing in a fish aggregation area, for the conservation and protection of the Black grouper, also known as Black rockfish (Mycteroperca bonaci), hereby notifies all members of the public that fishing in the fish aggregation area described below is prohibited from 1st September 2008 through 29th November 2008."

The aggregation area is square in shape and extends 1,500 metres on each side.

It is enclosed by a line running in an easterly direction from a point 32 degrees 28.60 minutes North, 64 degrees 35.60 minutes West, to a point 32 degrees 28.60 minutes North, 64 degrees 34.70 minutes West, thence by a line running southerly to a point 32 degrees 27.75 minutes North, 64 degrees 34.70 minutes West, thence by a line running westerly to a point 32 degrees 27.75 minutes North, 64 degrees 35.60 minutes West, thence by a line running northerly back to 32 degrees 28.60 minutes North, 64 degrees 35.60 minutes.

Protected Fish Species of Bermuda

Capture is not permitted for the following fish species in Bermuda.

Red Grouper Epinephelus morio
Snowy Grouper Epinephelus niveatus
Nassau Grouper Epinephelus striatus
Tarpon Megalops atlanticus
Gag Mycteroperca microlepis
Tiger Grouper Mycteroperca tigris
Yellowfin Grouper Mycteroperca venenosa
Whale Shark Rhincodon typus
Midnight Parrotfish Scarus coelestinus
Blue Parrotfish Scarus coeruleus
Rainbow Parrotfish Scarus guacamaia
Striped Parrotfish Scarus iseri
Queen Parrotfish Scarus vetula
Mutton Hamlet Alphestes afer
Princess Parrotfish Scarus taeniopterus
Redtail Parrotfish Sparisoma chrysopterum
Yellowtail (Redfin) Parrotfish Sparisoma rubripinne
Stoplight Parrotfish Sparisoma viride
Greenblotch Parrotfish Sparisoma atomarium
Redband Parrotfish Sparisoma aurofrenatum
Bucktooth Parrotfish Sparisoma radians
Lined Seahorse Hippocampus erectus
Longsnout Seahorse Hippocampus reidi

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Review of Protected Species and Habitats of Bermuda

Protected Marine Species and Habitats of Bermuda

In the following posts I will review the legal definitions and list critical marine species and habitats, as defined in the Laws of Bermuda, which are online at this link.

From the Bermuda Government Protected Species Act 2003

Legal Definitions:

Protected Species:
A Protected Species is any species of plant or animal designated as one of the following:

  1. critically endangered,
  2. endangered or
  3. vulnerable

in accordance with the criteria set out in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species

Designation of protected status is based on consideration of its:

(a) the distribution of the species throughout the world;
(b) the number (with particular regard to the number of
sexually mature members) and distribution of the species in Bermuda;
(c) the location of, and threats to, the habitat of the species; and
(d) natural or man-made factors affecting or potentially affecting the
vulnerability or survival of the species, including destruction of habitat,
over-exploitation, disease, predacity and use of chemicals.

Critical Habitat:
any critical terrestrial or marine habitat essential for the protection
of a specified protected species.


Protected Area:
A bounded area of critical habitat is designated as a “Protected Area”.

In the case of a critical marine habitat the order may impose restrictions
(a) prohibiting the mooring of a vessel;
(b) prohibiting the anchoring of a vessel;
(c) imposing speed limits on marine traffic; and
(d) prohibiting or restricting the movement of marine traffic,
within the protected area.

“Take”
Take, in relation to any protected species of animal, includes to injure, disturb, harass, kill, capture and collect and, in relation to any protected species of plant, includes to pick, break, cut, uproot, destroy, damage and remove.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pretty Picture Tuesday

A mixed school of French Grunts and Grey Snapper hangs out under a ledge.
[click on photo to enlarge]