Protecting threatened Over-seas biodiversity

A giant step forward for the protection of the Groupers at Saint-Martin!

Late August 2019, a new decree was published banning at all times and all places recreational sea-fishing for the Atlantic Goliath and Nassau Groupers in Guadeloupe and Saint-Martin, both globally threatened species.

Fishing of a Nassau grouper © AGRNSM

An answer to a lack of legislation

Other than the prefectural decrees of 2002 and 2009 concerning the control of recreational sea-fishing in Guadeloupe and Saint-Martin and protection afforded by the Saint-Martin national nature reserve no protection was afforded to these two species in the French West Indies. There is little information or monitoring of fishing activities, and unrestricted and illegal fishing by certain private boats that don’t respect the imposed quota and who sell a part of their catch.

Through its work in understanding the state of their habitat and their population levels and awareness-raising with decision makers, the management group of Saint-Martin national nature reserve contributed to the setting up of the decree regulating fishing of Atlantic Goliath and Nassau Groupers at Saint-Martin outside the reserve. One of the important aims of the LIFE program has thus been attained that will surely allow for better protection of the populations of the two species.

The next step

In a similar manor that saw the revision of the decree regulating recreational fishing, a second decree should be made, this time controlling professional fishing. The AGRNSM would wish for the same measures to be implied for these emblematic species that have become too rare in the waters around Saint-Martin and too many other Caribbean islands.

 Critically endangered species

Other than the lack of legislation, other threats such as human activities contribute to the destruction of those habitats essential to the groupers: coastal development, effluent discharge, destruction of coastal vegetation, over-visiting of reefs, etc. Moreover, coral reefs, the Atlantic Goliath and Nassau Groupers’ habitat, are particularly susceptible to global changes inducing a decrease of corals and episodes of coral bleaching. Better protection of these habitats would allow for the improvement in their conservation status.