Protected Aggregations Replenish Themselves and Support Fisheries

By Yvonne Sadovy
June 27, 2023

Understanding the dispersal of eggs and larvae is crucial for the conservation of marine fishes, particularly for overfished species like the critically endangered Nassau grouper. In a study, researchers utilised in situ imaging to track the three-dimensional positions of individual eggs and larvae near oceanographic drifters released during spawning events. By estimating a diffusion-mortality model and analysing previous years’ data, they found that in 2011 and 2017, larvae were retained locally, contributing significantly to population recovery on Little Cayman. However, in 2016, there was evidence of larval export to a neighbouring island with a depleted population. These findings emphasise the importance of protecting spawning aggregations and incorporating such measures into fisheries management to support population replenishment and regional recruitment.

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