Who trapped who?

Jason Guffy jguffy at home.com
Mon Jun 7 03:16:06 EDT 1999

Of course recreational spear fishing and commercial net fishing is
harmful.  I am wondering about the effects of  fishing for ornimental
fish and coral?

Alina Szmant wrote:
> I'd like to support CORALations' stand that spear-fishing is no better for coral reef fish communities than trapping, and in places, and in fact for certain species is MUCH worse. A specific example would be the groupers, where a small number of spear fishers (commercial as well as recreational) go in and wipe out a local population within a few days. In my opinion, there 'ain't no such thing as sustainable fishing' on coral reefs, at least not at anywhere near the levels that present day users would be agreeable to abide by for the desirable species that humans like to eat.
> Alina Szmant
>      Return-Path:
>      Delivered-To: szmant at mail.rsmas.miami.edu
>      Delivered-To: aszmant at rsmas.miami.edu
>      From: "CORALations"
>      To: "ReefKeeper" ,
>      "Michael Nemeth" ,
>      "eco-isla" ,
>      "Coral-List"
>      Subject: Who trapped who?
>      Date: Wed, 2 Jun 1999 16:16:23 -0400
>      X-MSMail-Priority: Normal
>      Sender: owner-coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>      Reply-To: "CORALations"
>      CORALations recently wrote an email to the list and a letter to Caribbean Fishery Management Council [CFMC] in support of ReefKeeper International's resolution to phase out the use of fish traps in the Caribbean. For the first time we received documents from this organization in advance of meetings. Normally we receive the announcement 2 weeks after local ReefKeeper meetings are held. The documents included 1) the announcement of where and when CFMC meetings were being held to discuss the phase out of reef traps (CFMC's adgenda), and 2) ReefKeeper's phase out resolution and petition.
>      Today we received in the mail another document from ReefKeeper. This document was clearly meant for mailing prior to the CFMC meetings one month ago, and was entitled: Help Phase Out Fish Traps and Protect Scuba Spearfishing! It begins by announcing the CFMC meetings: " CFMC is seeking public input to determine the best ways to reduce the total number of fish caught as well as the number of unwanted fish caught. Options being considered include a ten year phase out of wire mesh fish traps, elimination of spearfishing and lobstering using scuba and the elimination of gill nets".
>      As an ocean conservation org based in Puerto Rico we recognize all of the above practices as contributing to the decimation of fish populations and commend CFMC for opening discussions on the issue. ReefKeeper publication asks, and I quote:
>      "So who does more harm to fisheries and the environment - fish trappers or scuba spearfishers?...[and answers]...the answer is obvious - fish traps destroy habitat and kill thousands of juvenile and tropical fish every year."
>      The document continues: "There will be fish trappers present at the meeting that will blame scuba spearfishers for some harmful impacts to the reef fish and lobster fisheries. The trappers will blame scuba spearfishers as a way to distract from the subject of fish trap shortcomings."
>      We are concerned that after extending our support (albeit with major qualifications) for the first documents ReefKeeper sent to us, which sounded like a reasonable proposal to phase out traps...we receive this document...one month later that attaches what appears to be some kind of non conservation minded agenda geared at appealing to recreational spear fishermen.
>      Because of the support we previously gave to ReefKeeper on this list, we are writing to reiterate that CORALations strongly feels solutions to overfishing will have to come in large part from compliance of the fishermen. This may mean compliance to stricter fishing regs or by supporting the establishment of Marine Fishery Reserve areas, the latter being easier to enforce. Education and compliance are hard objectives to meet with the confrontational agenda of opposing the commercial trap fishing while endorsing other fishing practices which may also be argued as unsustainable. CORALations recognizes that recreational and commercial spears are taking a toll on reefs in Puerto Rico. The larger fish targeted are the most reproductive. We have been with a scientists who photographed small reef fish being taken and discarded by spears in one study area. We have personally witnessed spear fishermen target everything, including sea fans when fish aren’t there.
>      We recognize that this list was not created to vent frustrations with other orgs. Since we already sent the message to the list backing the trap phase out in support of ReefKeeper's proposal, we felt it important to clarify our stand on these issues to the other orgs and scientists who may have received the document from ReefKeeper with the attached spearfishing agenda.
>      CORALations in no way endorses one form of unsustainable fishing practice over another, especially in Puerto Rico where reef fish populations are so compromised. We would not endorse any policy which alienates the local commercial fishermen who have direct economic incentive and should be an integral part of creating management plans to protect marine fish populations.
>      Mary Ann Lucking
>      CORALations
>      Amapola 14, Suite 901
>      Isla Verde, PR 00979
>      corals at caribe
> **********************************************
> Dr. Alina M. Szmant
> Coral Reef Research Group
> University of Miami
> 4600 Rickenbacker Cswy.
> Miami FL 33149
> TEL: (305)361-4609
> FAX: (305)361-4600 or 361-4005
> **********************************************

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