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Rapid Population Assessments of Target Species Intended to Enable Rational Management of Marine Ornamentals in Puerto Rico

Map of study regions.

Map of study regions. Photo courtesy of LeGore Env. Associates, Inc.

A Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Science (CSCOR)-supported study through the Caribbean Coral Research Institute (CCRI) recently completed a first-order estimate of fishery impacts on wild populations of exploited species, an important component of developing a rational marine ornamental fishery management policy in Puerto Rico.

CCRI scientists evaluated wild populations of >20 fish species and >20 invertebrate species targeted by the export marine ornamental fisheries in Puerto Rico to develop minimum population estimates for comparison against annual harvest statistics. Field species counts in numerous habitat types were correlated with NOAA habitat maps to provide conservative population estimates, creating “at least as many as X” population totals.

This will be useful for applying “Precautionary Principal” attributes to the development of fishery management policies, which strive to balance competing interests in the face of uncertainty or limitations in data availability. Impacts of the existing fishery were determined to be low, but steady and dramatic increases in world demand for marine ornamentals will continue to build economic pressure for growth of these fisheries, creating urgency for development of rational management strategies, to prevent uncontrolled fishery growth.

Related NCCOS Center(s):
Shorter web link for sharing: http://coastalscience.noaa.gov/news/?p=851

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