My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How a Parrotfish Ban with Lionfish replacement will save Coral Reefs

Thursday, May 12, 2016

How a Parrotfish Ban with Lionfish replacement will save Coral Reefs

“While several countries in the Caribbean have taken the bold step of banning the fishing of parrotfish (including Belize, Bonaire, Turks and Caicos Islands), parrotfish fisheries remain in much of the region”

Dr Yves-Marie Bozec, from UQ’s School of Biological Sciences and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies commenting on the coral fish

Looks like a parrotfish ban is coming sooner than we think.

A recently published study by researcher from the University of Queensland suggests tight regulations are needed to preserve coral reefs in the Caribbean as noted in the article “Study: Science-based regulations needed to protect region’s coral reefs”, published Thursday, April 07, 2016, The Jamaica Observer

The new study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Tuesday. The research team analysed the effects of fishing on parrotfish. Then they looked at the role of parrotfish play in the coral reefs.

Based on the results of the comparison, they realized that the parrotfish eat seaweed and algae which smother coral and slows down their recovery as noted in my blog article entitled “How Parrotfish and Sea Urchins ban saves Coral Reef, Beaches and US$3 billion Jamaican Tourism”. 

Then then argued that science, not Government policy, needs to be used to revise current fisheries practices for parrotfish and other fish that eat seaweed and algae and keep the coral reefs clean. So says study co-author Professor Peter Mumby from UQ’s School of Biological Sciences, quote: “What we’ve done is identify fisheries’ policies that might help achieve this”.

Specifically, a ban on parrotfish and sea urchins, an idea proposed by Director of projects with the Negril Coral Reef Preservation Society, Lenbert Williams, back in July 2014 as reported in “Parrotfish ban? Scientists highlight benefits to reefs, but vendors cite loss of earnings”, published Wednesday, July 09, 2014 by Kimone Thompson, The Jamaica Observer is needed to preserve the coral reefs and preserve the shoreline of white sand beaches.

Increasing problems being created by global warming, local pollution and over-fishing, which prompts the need for science-based fishery regulations to preserve coral reefs and other fish sanctuaries. Already Belize, Bonaire, Turks and Caicos Islands have banned the fishing of parrotfish.

So why is Jamaican yet to ban the eating of parrotfish seeing as their demands would mean the end of coral and white sand beaches?

Parrotfish ban needed to save Coral reefs - Why Lionfish on the menu means more fish in the Coral Reefs

The coral reefs are dying but Jamaicans cannot do without eating their traditional parrotfish, which is a quite colourful fish based on the pictures above.

At the current rate of fishing of the parrotfish and other fish that remove seaweed and algae, the coral reefs will start experiencing bleaching, effectively becoming white and dead. This will result in a reduction in fishing stocks, as coral act as protection for fish. It will also result in increased erosion of the beachfront in the long run, as coral also slows down the action of waves on the beach, producing sand to build up white sand beaches. 

A 10% reduction in parrotfish fishing will have a significant impact on the fortunes of the Coral reef, to quote Dr Yves-Marie Bozec: “We conclude that unregulated fisheries will seriously reduce the resilience of coral reefs. However, implementation of size limits and catch limits to less than 10 per cent of the fishable stock provide a far better outlook for reefs, while also allowing the fishery to persist.”

An even better idea is to replace the eating of parrotfish with Lionfish as argued in the article “Replace parrot with lion”, published Wednesday, May 11, 2016, The Jamaica Observer.

Lionfish as per the description in the article The Lionfish Invasion, are carnivores that eat other smaller fish. This invasive species is best controlled by eating them as noted in my blog article entitled “National Lionfish Project reaps 66% reduction as NEPA's MTIASIC suggests Commercial Lionfish Farming”.

Switching Jamaicans to eating the Lionfish instead of the parrotfish will not be easy, especially as NEPA (National Environment and Planning Agency) is reporting fewer Lionfish since April 2014 as note in the article “NEPA reports big drop in lionfish sightings”, published Wednesday, April 16, 2014, The Jamaica Observer.
Still, if our PR campaign to get Jamaican to stop eating parrotfish fails, fisher folk will see a 66% drop in future fish catches, to quote Professor Peter Mumby: “Ultimately, the more we do to maintain healthy coral reefs, the more likely it is that fishers’ livelihoods will be sustained into the future. We already know that failure to maintain coral habitats will lead to at least a threefold reduction in future fish catches”.

So lionfish, anyone?

Here's the link:

No comments: