|Date||2 Jan 2013|
Groupers are highly valued target species in artisanal coral reef fisheries, given their demand in the international market. Life history characteristics such as long lifespan, late maturity, low natural mortality, and aggregating behaviour during spawning, make them particularly susceptible to fishing mortality. Additionally, their globally threatened status makes them a prominent group of fish to be considered for conservation interventions.
In the Andaman Islands, the grouper fishery began only 15 years ago and since then very little information has been collected on species specific catch volumes, as well as the influence that external markets have on fisher livelihoods. Fishery monitoring agencies in the region collect coarse landing statistics of fish groups, with no separation of species or even family. These factors have created a scenario where, for conservation initiatives to be undertaken, further information about the fishery and the actors within it needs to be generated.
Through interviews with fishermen, this study will help generate information about fisher practices, gear utilised, fishing grounds, and current and past landing trends. Underwater Visual Censuses will be carried out to determine abundance of grouper species, provide stock estimates, and help document possible spawning aggregations in the area. An analysis of actors and drivers in the export market will help evaluate its magnitude and past trends.
Ensuring the continuation of the Andaman grouper fishery through the employment of sustainable management practices is one of the major goals of this project. I intend to share the outcomes of the study with members of the fishing community, while emphasizing on the importance and benefits of monitoring and documenting fish resources. If successful, this project would not only be an initial step towards conserving grouper species in the area, but also a critical step towards improving the quality of fish landing data from this region through community based monitoring.
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