Summary on Caribbean Cyanide Fishing

sobelj%dccmc at sobelj%dccmc at
Thu Nov 13 20:13:45 EST 1997

Below is a copy of a question I posted on the list-serve for information 
on Cyanide-fishing in the Caribbean and a summary of about a dozen 
responses I received .  I'm posting the summary in response to several 
requests I received to share this information.  Thanks to all who 
responded with input.  Jack Sobel, Center for Marine Conservation.

At 08:26 PM 11/7/97 -0500, I  wrote:
>I received a request for information on cyanide-fishing in the Caribbean 

>from the World Bank.  I indicated that this was not a serious problem in 

>the Caribbean, especially compared to the more serious problems of 
>over-fishing.  However, they are still interested in signs of cyanide 
>fishing in the Caribbean.  Was I correct that this is not a major 
>in the region?  Does anyone have any information on this?  Thanks!  Jack 

1.  I am not aware of any cyanide-fishing in PR.  We do have a serious 
over-fishing problem.  Also, we have many tropical fish collectors 
operating with no rules or regulations (mostly quineldine as far as 
I know).  I cannot seem to get DNER interested in this problem, even 
tho we advise them.  There is some use of chlorox on the reefs in 
holes to drive octopus out of hiding. 
I hope this is of use.
Ernest H. Williams, Jr.
Department of Marine Sciences
University of Puerto Rico
P.O. Box 908
Lajas, PR 00667-0908

phone (787) 899-2048 x 264
FAX 787-899-2630
home phone (787) 892-1746

2. Jack, I have never heard of cyanide fishing in the Caribbean.  
Collectors use
quinaldinene for the collection of tropicals.  I heard of some use of 
Hope this helps, billy causey

3.  You are right that it is not a serious problem, especially compared 
with the
Pacific.  Nonetheless, there are occasional reports.  I assume you have
checked reefbase on this.  If not, I think the latest version has a map 
shows all areas that have been cyanided.
Hope this is useful.
Stephen Colwell

4.  Dear Jack - 
I can only speak for the British Virgin Islands, but our situation there
is that no cyanide fishing has been observed at all.  There has bee a
small amount of trouble with bleach fishing, esp. for lobsters. 


Annalie Morris

5.  As far as I am aware, cyanide fishing is not an issue in Puerto Rico.
There is, however, evidence of quinaldine use by some ornamental fish
collectors.  If anyone has indications of cyanide use, I would appreciate
it if they would share it with me!

Craig G. Lilyestrom, Ph.D.
Chief, Fisheries Division
Department of Natural and Environmental Resources
P.O. Box 9066600
Puerta de Tierra, P.R.  00906-6600
(787) 725-8619, FAX: 723-2805
6.  Out of 50 Caribbean sites surveyed for Reef Check 2 reports of poison
fishing were given. One for Columbia and one for Florida. Our sites were
biased with about 20 from Florida Keys so they are not representative of
what may be happening elsewhere.

However, cyanide is used to catch live fish to market in Asia -- thus
there may be a marketing problem with unfamiliar fish, not to mention
distance (cost) for export, that could be an impediment to Chinese
buyers working the Caribbean. For more info on Reef Check see the URL.

In return for this info, pls send me anything you find on commercial
harvest of sea cucumbers in the Caribbean. I have not been able to find

Gregor Hodgson, PhD
Institute for the Environment and Sustainable Development
Research Centre, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Clearwater Bay, Kowloon, HONG KONG
e-mail: rcgregor at        
tel: (852) 2358-8568      fax: (852) 2358-1582
Reef Check:

7.  Jack, I have never heard of a serious cyanide problem anywhere in the
islands.  I once heard a rumor of this going on in Belize, but
unsubstantiated.  Jack Carter might know.

Les Kaufman
Boston University Marine Program
Department of Biology
Boston University
5 Cummington Street
Boston, MA 02215

e-mail: lesk at
phone: 617-353-5560
fax:   617-353-6340

8.  Hi Jack,
That's my perception.  Cheers.
John C. Ogden        Director        Phone:  813/553-1100
Florida Institute of Oceanography    Fax:    813/553-1109
830 First Street South               St. Petersburg, Florida 33701

9.  Jack, I am not aware that it is a problem, but I suggest you contact 
Jim Bohnsack
or other colleagues in the fish game.  The current meeting of GCFI in 
would be the place to find out?   Hope you are there.


Robert N. Ginsburg,  Professor of Marine Geology, Rosenstiel School of
Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami.
Mail:  University of Miami, RSMAS-MGG, 4600 Rickenbacker Cswy., Miami, FL 
Phone: (305) 361-4875   FAX: (305) 361-4094 rginsburg at

10.  Jack:  I've been studying reef problems in the Caribbean for several 
years now,
and have never yet encountered a case of cyanide fishing.  Just about
everything else.... but not cyanide.

You were correct in your statements to the WB.

Joe Dougherty
OCEAN Initiative
UC Berkeley Dept. Geography

11.  Hi Jack, Ocean Voice International has been working on alternatives 
to cyanide
collection of ornamental fishes since 1989 in the Philippines and kept
our ears open about its use elsewhere.  We have never had any solid
evidence of its use in the Caribbean.  Evidence of its use in southeast
Asia, on the other hand is soundly based, e.g. Philippines, Indonesia,
Malaysia, Taiwan, etc.


Don E. McAllister             /& Canadian Centre for Biodiversity
Ocean Voice International          /Canadian Museum of Nature
Box 37026, 3332 McCarthy Rd. /Box 3443, Station D
Ottawa, ON K1V 0W0, Canada    /Ottawa, ON K1P 6P4
URL:  E-mail: mcall at  
 (or: ah194 at Tel: (613) 264-8986, Fax: (613)

12.  Sorry, I don't have the information you're looking for, but would be 
interested in the responses you get. Could you forward them, please?
Osha Gray Davidson
14 S. Governor St.
Iowa City, IA 52240

PH: (319) 338-4778
FAX: (319) 338-8606
e-mail: osha at
Scholar Associate, International Programs, University of Iowa

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