Authors

Andrew Blitman

Document Type

Internship Report

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Abstract

Highly Migratory Species (HMS) inhabit all of the world’s oceans. Examples such as billfish, sharks, and tunas, habitually cross man made, international boundaries. Because HMS are constantly on the move, fisheries scientists often encounter difficulties assessing their habitats, their population sizes, and their conservation status. As a result, conservationists, fishermen, and lawmakers struggle to regulate the harvest of HMS around the world. In the Caribbean, it is no different. The region, which consists of29 countries, is the junction between the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean. Fisheries resources are managed on the local level by national governments and on the regional level by international organizations. This Masters of Professional Science Internship Report examines the ways by which recreational HMS fisheries are managed by the governments of the United States, the Bahamas, and Jamaica – countries with high, intermediate, and low levels of fisheries regulation, respectively. In order to accomplish this, I created some criteria for determining the current status of HMS within those countries. In doing so, I determined which HMS laws are currently in effect and which ones need to be implemented to protect declining stocks. The results of the comparison were used to create a matrix of variables necessary for a standardized Caribbean model. To achieve this overall goal, I did the following: (1) determined the status of the HMS fishery, including a GIS-based assessment of the environmental and habitat characteristics occupied, (2) reviewed the policies, and (3) determined the criteria for comparing policies among the three countries and then created a matrix using those criteria. Where billfish were not specifically mentioned, I examined the bycatch records alongside intentionally-targeted species like tuna. Environmental data-that which pertained to factors such as chlorophyll levels, particulate organic carbon concentrations, and sea surface temperature-were taken from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Ocean Color project. Billfish are unique as HMS because they support immense recreational fisheries in the Caribbean. The United States, the Bahamas, and Jamaica share a large proportion of the Caribbean’s billfish encounters (see the figures in Section 5.1), but differ greatly in the ways that their governments manage billfish stocks.

Comments

Department: MAF

MPS Track: Marine Conservation

Location: The Billfish Foundation (TBF), Fort Lauderdale, FL

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