20 Nov 2017
My research aims to provide an ecological description of Guanaja’s marine ecosystem and apply it to a technical viability assessment for the deployment of an artificial reef-based lobster fishery. This assessment will involve the construction of ecosystem models and simulate the impacts that the addition of these devices might have on local biodiversity. Specifically, my objectives are:
1. Construct a mass balance model that describes the ecological structure, the trophic dynamics, and the economic value of the marine resource surrounding Guanaja.
2. Apply dynamic simulations to assess the viability of an artificial reef-based fishery, and discuss its potential degree of sustainability under the debate of the attraction vs. enhancement hypotheses.
3. Apply spatially explicit simulations to assess the fitness of the locally established no-take zone network.
4. Document and report ecosystem structure and biodiversity off the island's upper mesophotic zone.
Local authorities in Guanaja have recently announced the construction of 600 small artificial reefs in the surrounding waters of this Caribbean island, with the objective of enhancing a local artisanal fishery of spiny lobsters. The risks of moving forward without a comprehensive assessment include the over exploitation of lobsters. Therefore, my research aims to provide a viability assessment based on ecosystem models and impact simulations. Fieldwork will be conducted to quantify current fishery catches and effort, species biodiversity and biomass. Shallow water habitats will be surveyed, including upper mesophotic coral systems.