Sea cucumber Monitoring

TIDE monitors the size and population density of ‘Donkey Dung’ sea cucumbers in Port Honduras Marine Reserve (PHMR) as part of our Commercial Benthic Species Monitoring Programme.

Sea cucumber monitoring has been carried out biannually since 2011 at the beginning and end of the closed season (1st July – 31st December) in order to detect annual and seasonal changes in the population.

Sea cucumbers are commercially fished for the Asian market due to their alleged aphrodisiac properties. Overfishing has led to a 50% decline in General Use Zones in PHMR.  As a result, sea cucumber fishing licenses have been implemented to 70 fishermen in the reserve since 2011 in a hope to increase the juvenile population.

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Applying harvesting restrictions is part of a Managed Access scheme that is co-managed by TIDE and Belize Fisheries Department.  Managed Access aims to reduce the decline of fisheries in PHMR and an important part of applying fishing licenses is to assess the results. Our monitoring found there was a major decline in the 'Donkey Dung' population in December 2012 that could have been due to overharvesting or a natural event.  Since then, the number of sea cucumbers in the Replenishment Zones has increased, however, populations in the General Use Zones have remained low.  This could be because overfishing is slowing the recovery of 'Donkey Dung in General Use Zones.

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Our result reveals that Replenishment Zones are successfully counterbalancing the negative effects of over-fishing. Although, work needs to be continued in the General Take Zones to increase the juvenile population for future generations of ‘Donkey Dung’ sea cucumber.

 

 

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Our results reveal that Replenishment Zones are successfully counterbalancing the negative effects of over-fishing.

   

 

Date: July 21, 2014 Author: clarebaranowski
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