Sunday, November 08, 2009

Groupers all but gone from Antigua and Barbuda

The only big groupers we have left in Antigua are the ones locally called John Pow which live in waters over 300 feet deep. Lucky for them! Those ones are internationally called Warsaw Groupers, and you can read a bit more on them here. Uncle Nick caught one yesterday while bottom fishing in deep waters. If you see grouper on the menu it will usually be this type of grouper which so far have been able to survive our unregulated fishery. One that you will not find on the menu here anymore is the Goliath grouper aslo known as Jewfish. These were wiped out here in Antigua while I was a child. I have never see one alive. When you speak with fishermen here you realize that there are quite a few fish species which are now extinct here. Anyone remember the "macaw chub" internationally known as Midnight Chub. I used to see those amazing parrot fish all around the island. They are gone now. With so little work being done to save our coral reefs and the species that survive within them, I am sure that there are many species that young people will only hear about in stories. I found out that none of my crew has ever seen a Midnight Chub. JD had never heard of one. He goes around Antigua by boat at least three times a week. Anyway, have a read of an alert about Goliath groupers (Jewfish) sent from the Caribbean Biodiversity people.
Dear AMLC List

Goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara) is one of the last representatives of the marine megafauna that were once abundant in tropical and subtropical latitudes of the world's oceans. Critically endangered throughout its distribution range, goliath grouper (previously known as jewfish), have been protected in U.S federal and state waters since 1990 through a total fishing ban. After reaching commercial extinction, the species is now in a path towards recovery. Florida is one of the few places in the world, where we can still dive with these giants.

Powerful lobbies are pressuring politicians to relax the protected status of goliath grouper to re-open the fishery at some point. This is against scientists recommendations. In a meeting early December, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will vote on whether to facilitate the process for a fishery re-opening or continue with the complete fishing ban and full protection.

The SCUBA diving community, conservationists and scientists are now lobbying so politicians will listen to the voice of reason. Please, consult the petition below, and consider adding your signature (you can also add your own comments). We hope to reach at least 1,000 signatures (more will even be better).

- http://www.thepetit 1/protect- goliath-groupers

Thank you for your time.

You can find links to goliath grouper publications and a dedicated Endangered Species Research issue in my internet page. Also a short documentary film under "teaching"

Sarah Frias-Torres, Ph.D.

http://independent. academia. edu/SarahFriasTo rres