Belize’s Nassau Grouper!!

The Nassau Grouper is  the most important of the groupers for commercial fishery in the West Indies but has been endangered by overfishing.

The Nassau grouper is a U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service Species of Concern.  Species of Concern are those species about which the U.S. Government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, has some concerns regarding status and threats, but for which insufficient information is available to indicate a need to list the species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

The Nassau grouper is a medium to large fish, growing to over a meter in length and up to 55 pounds in weight. It has a thick body and a large mouth, which it uses to “inhale” prey. Its color varies depending on an individual fishes circumstances and environment. In shallow water (up to 60 feet), the grouper is a tawny color, but specimens that live in deeper waters are pinkish or red, or sometimes orange-red color. Superimposed on this base color are a number of lighter stripes, darker spots, bars and patterns including black spots below and behind the eye, and a forked stripe on the top of the head.

The Nassau grouper lives in the sea, preferring to be near the reef; it is one of the largest fish to be found around Coral Reefs. It can be found anywhere from the shoreline to nearly water that are up to 100 m deep.  It is a solitary fish, feeding in the daytime, mainly on other fish and small crustaceans like crabs and small lobsters. It spawns in December and January, always around the time of the full moon, and always in the same locations. By the light of the full moon, huge numbers of the grouper cluster together to mate in mass spawning. One reason the Nassau Grouper fisheries are so depleted is that its huge spawning groups make easy targets for fishermen, who scoop up large numbers of reproducing fish, who then can obviously not reproduce. Many other grouper and snapper species are in trouble of becoming endangered or extinct for the same reason.

The Nassau grouper is fished both commercially and for sport, it is less shy than other groupers, and is readily approached by scuba divers;  However,  its numbers have been sharply reduced by overfishing in recent years, and it is a slow breeder. Furthermore its historic spawning areas are easily targeted for fishing, which tends to remove the reproductively active members of the group. The species is therefore highly vulnerable to overexploitation, and is recognized as endangered on the IUCN Red List. The governments of the United States, the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas have banned fishing for the Nassau Grouper in recent years. In the Cayman Islands fishing in the spawning holes of the grouper has been banned until the end of 2011, and in the case of the Bahamas fishing for the groupers in the months of December 2003 to February 2004 was also stopped. The Nassau Grouper is in a very high rate decline and is at serious risk of becoming extinct.Source.

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One comment on “Belize’s Nassau Grouper!!”

  1. Interested in how the oil spill has affected our lovely belize and all its beautiful coast, along with any damage to the sealife???


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