NOAA-funded research in the Caribbean is using the underwater sounds of reef fish, such as groupers, to identify areas where they gather to spawn – a behavior that makes the fish easier to catch and susceptible to overfishing. The research may lead to more precise measures to protect spawning locations and thereby allow a depleted fish population to rebuild.
Scientists at the University of Puerto Rico, working with Caribbean resource managers, are conducting the current research in an effort to protect populations of commercially and recreationally important grouper, one of the most valuable fisheries in the region. Groupers were once one of the most important species found in the fisheries within Puerto Rico. In 1975 the catch totaled 980,000 pounds, but since then has steadily declined such that in 2005 it was less than 83,000 pounds, a reduction of more than 90 percent.