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Tropic news. Volume 6. Issue 4

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Title:
Tropic news. Volume 6. Issue 4
Series Title:
Tropic news
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United States Virgin Islands. Department of Planning and Natural Resources. Division of Fish and Wildlife.
Publisher:
United States Virgin Islands. Department of Planning and Natural Resources. Division of Fish and Wildlife.
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English

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Caribbean ( LCSH )
Newspapers -- Caribbean ( LCSH )
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serial ( sobekcm )
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North America -- United States Virgin Islands
Caribbean

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Full Text



TR OPIC NE W'S


DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING AND NATURAL
RESOURCES


January 1994


DIVISION OF FISH AND WILDLIFE


Volume 6 Number 4


MARINE RESERVES
To most people the ocean seems boundless, its re-
sources inexhaustible, and its ability to tolerate human
activities unlimited. Unfortunately, these perceptions
-are false; the ocean's resources are finite and human
activities can be devastating. For the first time in
history, we are able to catch fish faster than they can be
produced. This ability must be compensated for with
new ways of preventing overfishing and resource deple-
Lion. A relatively new appiitr'(h, which is tuHiiig wide-
spread acceptance, is the establishment of marine
fishery reserves. These are areas where all fishing and
other harvesting activities are prohibited.
The primary goal of marine reserves is to ensure that
fisheries are maintained by allowing some fish to repro-
duce without being harvested. In a reserve, abundance,
average size of the fish, and total egg production can be
increased above what it would be if the area were fished.
Ocean currents then should disperse eggs and larvae to
downstream areas. The whole concept is very simple: If
protected from human interference, Nature will take
care of itself.
Many fisheries around the world have been seriously
depleted or have actually crashed due to overfishing.
The reef fish fisheries in Bermuda, Puerto Rico,
U.S.V.I., and most of the tropics are examples of this.
The first indications of this are the decline in average
size offish and the disappearance of larger species such
as groupers and snappers.
Depleted populations of reef fish can result from
several reasons: Fishing activity can disrupt the ability
of the fish to produce enough eggs to replenish the
population. Reef fish often aggregate to spawn and are
therefore easily caught, generally before they can
spawn. Selective fishing can reduce genetic diversity
within a species, causing it to attain a smaller size and
have a shorter life span (in 60 years, Chinook salmon
have declined in average size by more than 50% and
average age to maturity has declined to two years). -
Selective fishing can reduce diversity between species
which can lead to the loss of species and a disruption of
the web of life on reefs. Fishing activities can also
damage the habitats which fish and other marine
species need for survival. We need to also remember
that the problem of overfishing is aggravated by envi-
ronmental stresses produced by other human activities.
Many of the traditional methods of fishery manage-
ment are ineffective or impractical to use for reef fish.
Marine fishery reserves can provide both fishery and
nonfishery benefits. The dispersal of eggs, larvae and
fish to nearby areas can maintain or improve fishery
yields. Reserves can also provide insurance against a
population crash by acting as a reservoir for helping the
nnrnlafCrnn ranTtrrT 0+ 0 4OPc.+r r4-nr


Reserves protect biodiversity and provide areas that
can remain in natural balance without direct human
disruptions. They can be used to educate the public on
natural systems and human impacts on those systems.
Reserves make enforcement easy since one is either
fishing or not. Scientific research necessary for under-
standing the biology of many of these species is more
meaningful if done in a more natural area. Having areas
that are more natural also benefits the tourism industry
as people come to see the more abundant fish and to use
the reserve In a nondestructive manner.
In conclusion, fishery reserves are based on the
fundamental ecology of marine organisms and offers
benefits to both fishery and nonfishery interests. Al-
though marine reserves are primarily intended to
protect or enhance fisheries by protecting the quantity
and quality of reproductive output, they also help
protect biodiversity and reduce user conflicts by separat-
ing incompatible activities, and they can act as refer-
ence areas for study of natural processes with limited
human disturbance. Some of these goals are impossible
without reserve areas. Finally, reserves provide an
insurance policy against fishery collapse. With intelli-
gent use of fishery reserves, we can protect reef ecosys-
tems and allow sustainable harvests for present and
future generations.
The preceding was summarized from an article by
Jim Bohnsack entitled, "Marine Reserves; They Enhance
Fisheries, Reduce Conflicts, And Protect Resources.",
Oceanus Vol. 36(3), 1993.


Mutton Snapper (Lutjanus analis), also called Virgin
Snapper, are very good eating. They are usually found over
sand bottoms and near reefs. They feed on crabs, small fishes,
and molluscs. They are generally curious of divers. These
snappers travel offshore to spawn in aggregations near the
shelf edge. This has led to overfishing as they are easily
caught in the aggregations. The known aggregation site south
of St. Croix is now protected during the spawning season (see
December Tropic News).


QUOTE
"Accuse not Nature, she hath done her part; Do thou
but thine." --John Milton


~e~BE~C~s~P~*~se~,-P~B8a~aP~rs~C~Alsm~~i






ENDANGERED SPECIES SUCCESSES
Mollie Beattie, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlfe
Service recently said, "The Endangered Species Act is
one of the country's most successful conservation laws.
Without the Act in place, we might have lost our na-
tional symbol along with many other lesser known
species and with them many important ecosystems."
While many species do continue to decline in popula-
tion numbers, some have recovered due to regulations
imposed when the Act was enacted in 1973. In fact, four
species have recovered to the point that they no longer
need the Act's protection, and 17 have been upgraded
from endangered.to the less serious threatened category.
Just in 1993, the Arctic Peregrine Falcon was pro-
posed to be removed from the list due to recovery and
seven species were upgraded from endangered to threat-
ened. We are expecting a number of other species to
reach recovery goals over the next several years. Other
once nearly extinct species that have responded well to
protection are the whooping crane, California condor,
and the red fox. Locally, our sea turtles have made *
dramatic comebacks in numbers due to prohibition of
harvest, although we are a long way from having recov-
ered populations.
Beattie also said, "What we've come to understand
over the past 20 years is that this country's economic
vitality is ultimately dependent on its overall environ-
mental health. When we list a species, regardless of
what that species is, we're getting a clear signal that the
natural resources we ourselves depend on -- clean air,
adequate water, a healthy diversity of life -- are truly in
jeopardy. By ensuring the continued existence of endan-
gered species, we ultimately ensure our own survival."
Here in the V.I. we are working with federally listed
species such as sea turtles, the St. Croix ground lizard,
St. Thomas tree boa, Brown Pelican, Roseate and Least
terns, and several plants. We hope that our efforts will
result in the recovery of these species.

Trees were saved by printing on recycled paper


ST. CROIX STAFF
For ten years Hector Rivera has been working for the
Division's Bureau of Fisheries. As an Environmental
Specialist I, Hector has been collecting data on commer-
cial and recreational fisheries landings on St. Croix. He
has also been a key member of the team on a number of
fisheries projects including: developing the fishery
potential for big-eye scad, assessing the nursery habitat
value of mangroves, and fish stock assessment of pelagic
species and benthic species in both Territorial and
National Park Service waters. Hector has also assisted
with Endangered Species and other projects.
Hector is working on developing his computer skills
and is concerned with special programs that will benefit
both the Division and the fishing community. Naturally,
Sone of Hector's favorite pastimes is fishing although he
also enjoys baseball and boxing.

ST. THOMAS STAFF CHANGES
We are sorry to have to say good by to Cathy Lawlor,
Environmental Specialist I in the Bureau of Environ-
Smental Education. After a little more than a year with
the Division, Cathy has decided to move on to other
career opportunities in modelling and the diving indus-
try.
During her time with the Division, Cathy was ex-
tremely productive. In addition to producing several
brochures and the Newsletter, Cathy developed a Crea-
ture Teacher puppet show and visited most schools on
St. Thomas with talks and presentations on environ-
mental issues. We will miss Cathy's exuberance and
creativity. We all wish her the best of luck with what-
ever she becomes involved in.


a

41RA.


This newsletter was funded by the US
Fish and Wildlife Service, Sport Fish and
Wildlife Restoration Acts, the Caribbean
Fishery Management Council and the
Government of the VI.


GOVERNMENT OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
OF THE UNITED STATES
****"t
Department of Planning and Natural Resources
Division of Fish and Wildlife
6291 Estate Nazareth 101
St. Thomas, USVI 00802-1104
(809)775-6762 (ST.T.), (809)772-1955 (ST.X.)


BULK RATE
U.S. POSTAGE PAID
CHARLOTTE AMALIE, V.
PERMIT NO. 35


Address Correction Requested


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Full Text

PAGE 1

""Co , .',~" I f"'" i :: "' ,,"Co DEP ARlMENT OF PLANNING AND NATURAL RESOURCES January 1994 Volume 6 Number 4 ---~ R~$~rles protect biodiversity and provide areas that e '" . ;;. ' " can remaIn m natural balance wIthout dIrect human disruptions. They can be used to educate the public on natural systems and human impacts on those systems. Reserves ~ake enforcement easy since one is either fishing or n,9t. Scientific research necessary for understanding the biology of many of these species is more meaningful if done in a more natural area. Having areas that are Inore natural also benefits the tourism industry as people corne to see the more abundant fish and to use Lue re::!t:!tve ill a 1'ibl!d~SLI'ucLi ve manner. ~n conclusion, fishery reserves are bas~d on the fundamental ecology of marine organism§ and offers benefits to both fishery and nonfishery in;~rests. Although marine reserves are primarily intended to protect or enhance fisheries by protecting the quantity and quality of reproductive output, they also help protect biodiversity and reduce user conflicts by separating incompatible activities, and they can act as reference areas for study of natural processes with limited human disturbance. Some of these goals are impossible without reserve areas. Finally, reserves provide an insurance policy against fishery collapse. Withintelligent use of fishery reserves, we can protect reef ecosystems !i:nd allow sustainable harvests for present and future generatioI:1s. ' The preceding was summarized from an article by Jim Bohnsack entitled, "Marine Reserves; They Enhance Fisheries, Reduce Conflicts, And Protect Resources.", Oceanus Vol. 36(3), lW3. MARINE RESERVES To most people the ocean seems boundless, its resources inexhaustible, and its ability to tolerate human activities unlimited. Unfortunately, these perceptions' ~are false; the ocean's resources are finite and human activities can be devastating. For the first ti~e in history, we are able to catch fish faster than they can be p.roduced. This ability must. be compensated for with new ways of preventingoverfishing and resource depleLfuu. A rel~Llvel.v uew allllrt)HI:l" wllic~l, i.~ e:.tillillj; ,~litllJspr~ad acceptance, is the establishment of marine fishery reserves. These are areas where all fishing and other harvesting activities 'are prohibited. . The primary goal of marine reserves is to ensure that fisheries are maintained by allowing some fish to reproduce without being harvested. In a reserve, abundance, average size of the fish, and total egg production can be increased above what it would be if the area were fished. Ocean currents then should disperse eggs and larvae to downstream areas. The whole concept is very simple: If protected from human interference, Nature will take care of itself. I\1:any fisheries around. tbe world have been seriously depleted or have actually crashed due to overfishing. The reef fish fisheries in Bermuda, Puerto Rico, U:S.V.I., and most of the tropics ate examples of this. The first indications of this are the decline in average size offish and the disappearance of larger species such as groupers and snappers. Depleted populations of reef fish can result from several reasons: Fishing activity can disrupt the abilitJ:" of the fish to produce enough eggs to replenish the population. Reef fish often aggregate to spawn and are therefore easily caught, generally before they can spawn. ~ Selective fishing can red~ce genetic diversity within a species, causing it to attain a smaller size and have a shorter life span (in 60 years, Chinook salmon have declined in average size by more than 50% and average age to maturity has declined to two years). Selective fishing can reduce diversity between species which can lead to the loss of species and a disruption of the web of life on reefs. Fisping activities can also' damage the habitats which fish and other marine species need for survival. We need to also remember that the problem of overfishing is aggravated by environmental stresses produced by other human activities. Many of the traditional methods of fishery management are ineffective or impractical to use for reef fish. Marine fishery reserves can provide both fishery and nonfishery benefits. The dispersal of eggs, larvae and fish to nearby areas can maintain or improve fishery yields. Reserves can also provide insurance against a population crash by acting as a reservoir for helping the y-.".", l~I-;"n "O""""O" ~I~ ~~..I-",. ,."1-,, Mutton Snapper (Lutjanus analis), also called Virgin Snapper, are very good eating. They are usually found over sand bottoms and near reefs. They feed on crabs, small fishes, and molluscs. They are generally curious of divers. These snappers travel offshore to spawn. in aggregations near the shelf edge. This has led to overushing as they are easily caught in the aggregations. The known aggregation site south of St. Croix is now protected during the spawning season (see December Tropic News), QUOTE "Accuse not Nature, she hath done her part; Do thou but thine." --John Milton DIVISION OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

PAGE 2

'f1..' ~~f~.:.~ ST. CROIX STAFF For ten years Hec:tor Rivera has been working for the Division's Bureau of Fisheries. As an Environmental Specialist I, Hectqr has been collecting data on commercial and recreational fisheries landings on St. Croix. He has also been a key member of the team on a number of fisheriesproje~ts includif\g: developing the fishe,ry potential for big-eye scad, assessing the nursery habitat value of mangroves, and fish stock assessment of pelagic species and benthic species in both Territorial and National Park Service waters. Hector has also assisted with Endangered Species and 'other projects. Hector is working on developing his computer skills and is concerned with special programs that will benefit both the Division and the fishing community. Naturally, one of Hector's favorite pastimes is fishing although he also enjoys baseball and boxing. S1'.1'HO1\1AH ~'l'M'~' t:.HANG.ES We are sorry to have to say good by to Cathy Lawlor, Environmental Specialist I in the Bureau of Environmental Education. After a little more than a year with the Division, Cathy has decided to move on to other career opportunities in modelling and the diving industry. During her time with the Division, Cathy was extremely productive. In addition to producing several brochures and the Newsletter, Cathy developed a Crea. ture Teacher puppet show and visited most schools on St. Thomas with talks and presentations on environmental issues. We will miss Cathyis exuberance and creativity. We all wish her the best of luck with whatever she becomes involved in. This newsletter was funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Acts, the Caribbean Fi~heTY Mankgement Council and the Government of the VI. EtillANGERED S:pECIES SUCCESSES Mollie Beattie, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildl~fe Service recently said, "The Endangered Species Act is one of the country's most successful conservation laws. Without the Act in place, we might have lost our national symbol along with many other lesser known species and with them many important ecosystems." While many species do continue to decline in population numbers, some have recovered dueto regulations imposed when the Act was enacted in 1973. In fact, four species have recovere~ to the point that they no longer need the Act's protection, arid 17 have been upgraded from endangered. to the less serious threatened category. Just in 1993, the Arctic Peregrine Falcon was proposed to be removed from the list due to recovery and seven species were upgraded from endangered to threatened. Weare expecting a number of ot~er species to roach rccovc1'}' goalo over "tho noxt eoveral years, Other once nearly extinct species that have responded well to protection are the whooping crane, California condor, and the red fox. Locally, our sea turtles have made" dramatic comebacks in numbers due to prohibition of harvest, although we are a long way from having recovered populations. Beattie also said, "What we've come to understand over the past 20 years is that this country's economic vitality is ultimately dependent on its overall environmental health. When we list a species, regardless of what that species is, we're getting a clear signal that the natural resources we ourselves depend on -clean air, adequate water, a healthy diversity of life -are truly in jeopardy. By ensuring the continued existence of endangered species, we ultimately ensure our own survival." Here in the V.I. we are working with federally listed species such as sea turtles, the St. Croix ground lizard, St. Thomas tree boa, Brown Pelican, Roseate and Least terns, and several plants. We hope that our efforts will result in the recovery of these species. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trees were saved by printing on recycled paper BULK RATE u.s. POSTAGE PAlP CHARLOTTE AMAIJIE, V. PERMIT NO. 35 GOVERNMENT OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS OF THE UNITEP STATES ****** Department of Planning and Natural Rc!'ources Division of Fish and Wildlife 6291 Estate Nazareth 101 St. Thomas, USVI 00802-1104 (809)775-6762 (ST.T.), (809)772-1955 (ST.X.) Address Correction Requested