SFP has developed a visual display of T75 progress using a Tableau software dashboard for each of the key seafood sectors. The mostly artisanal and widely geographically distributed nature of the fisheries requires a co-management approach, which will require investments in basic fisheries' management, such as data gathering, capacity building, monitoring, assessments, formal identification, and licensing of fishers, etc.
The primary goal of the SR is to encourage vendors in Mexico to participate in efforts to improve the national fishery management system in Mexico, but there is also interest in catalyzing improvement efforts for some of the most commonly imported species, including snapper and grouper. Pacific snapper and grouper fishery products largely remain in Mexico and are outside the scope of influence of the current SR membership, but improvement efforts in Pacific fisheries are underway and are being led by domestic Mexican NGOs.
The key to closing the gap to T75 is to successfully engage new markets and production industries, primarily in Southeast Asia. The status of many snapper and grouper stocks is unknown, particularly in the multispecies small-scale fisheries in developing countries where reporting systems are absent or insufficient.
The life history characteristics of many snapper and grouper species (e.g., slow growing, late maturing, seasonal spawning aggregations) make them particularly susceptible to overexploitation. Snapper and grouper are caught by a variety of gears: hook and line, bottom longline, spear, traps, gill nets, and trawl.
In general, the possible effects of the snapper and grouper fisheries on coral reefs and interactions with the ecosystem are not well understood. Appropriate mitigation and avoidance measures have been developed for some fisheries (e.g., for US Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic longline and hook and line fisheries); however, more studies and by catch avoidance measures may be required in other regions, especially where less-selective gears (e.g. gill net, trawl) are still employed.
A much smaller amount is consumed in markets that are highly engaged in sustainability (e.g., the US), where improvements in sourcing would be supported. When an important species is overfished, it doesn't just affect the ability of that fish population to reproduce; it can throw the entire ecosystem off balance.
And overfishing of algae-grazing parrot fish in the Caribbean has led algae to proliferate and damage coral reefs, which are essential to healthy fish populations. Managing fisheries to be more sustainable is one of the most effective tools that we have to influence both the immediate and long term health of our oceans.
That’s why TNC is launching a new program to support a healthy snapper and grouper fishery in Florida. TNC has been involved in sustainable fisheries in other parts of the United States and around the world for many years, including working with fishermen off the Oregon coast to modernize data collection and improve monitoring, and testing new methods to reduce by catch in the longline tuna fishery in the Pacific island nation of Paley.
In Florida, recreational anglers represent a larger share of the overall user group than in other parts of the world. Recreational fishing in Florida generates an estimated $6 billion in annual expenditures, compared with $15 million for all other South Atlantic states combined.
Of the many fish harvested in these waters, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists have identified snapper and grouper as being the most vulnerable to overfishing. These long-lived species are often associated with hard-bottom habitats, meaning both shallow and deep-water coral reefs, where they serve an important role as predators, keeping populations of smaller fish in check.
In the long term, our goal is to achieve snapper and grouper stocks that are healthy, sustainable, and serve their important role in the ecosystem by 2045. Getting these fish populations back on track will be an important step to restoring the health and function of coral reefs in Florida, preserving the rich biodiversity of the region's waters, and making sure that these ecosystems are protected for the future.
One of the major issues affecting snapper and grouper species is barotrauma, or injuries caused by a rapid change in pressure. Just as divers get the bends if they surface too quickly, when a fish is pulled up from deep water, the compressed gas in its body expands.
This change can cause its eyes to bulge, its stomach to pop out of its mouth, and bubbles to form in its heart and brain. If the fish doesn’t die from these injuries after being released, the extra gas in its body will cause it to float like a cork, making it vulnerable to predators and unable to swim down to a safe depth.
These simple tools use various techniques to quickly pull the fish back down to the proper depth and release it. Others latch onto the mouth with a blunt hook, or trap the fish in a container, and are released manually with a quick jerk of the line.
Whichever version the angler uses, descending devices significantly reduce discard mortality rates. These devices are also much safer and more effective than venting the fish by puncturing its swim bladder, a common practice to reduce mortality.
In addition to improving the overall health of snapper and grouper species in our waters, a second major goal of our fisheries program is to assist in gathering data. In an effort to increase access to accurate information, TNC will be collecting data regarding overall awareness of descending devices among recreational anglers, whether and how they are being used, and prevalent catch-and-release practices.
Florida’s fishermen care about the snapper and grouper fisheries and understand their value, which is why we’re partnering with boat captains, social media influencers and other leaders in the recreational fishing community to help spread the word about the importance of descending devices, and to educate anglers on the benefits of proper handling technique. By educating others, using descending devices and helping to collect data, we can decrease mortality rates, help restore snapper and grouper stocks in Florida, ensure there’s enough fish to maintain a healthy ecosystem and support a robust recreational and commercial fishing industry for years to come.
The answer to this is to utilize modern technology via land-based recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS),” the company owners state on their website. EAA started as a grouper hatchery and a nursery facility, located on the east coast of Phuket Island, in Thailand.
Not long after that, the owners quickly found it very challenging to keep fry alive after the stress of air transport. Seawater (32 to 34 parts per thousand) is pumped first through Zeolite filters, then past a large UV array, consisting of 12 150-watt lights, then through a protein skimmer where ozone is introduced, and finally through drum screen filters to the storage tanks.
From there it is moved to six independent RAS systems that are used for either brood stock, hatchery or nursery purposes. The company has a fish veterinarian on retainer and uses the expertise of the Thai fisheries branch for virus testing for Viral Nervous Necrosis and Rhinovirus.
The company’s eight giant grouper bloodstock, 60 to 80 kilograms in size and nearly 17 years old (they can live up to 80), originally came from Fisheries-reared stock. When asked about other disease issues, Bet hell says they first dealt with vibrato brought on by air transport stress.
The company currently offers four types of grouper fry: brown marbled/tiger grouper (Epimetheus fuscoguttatus), which has been farmed in sea cages for 50 years and can reach market size in eight to 10 months; coral trout (Plectropomus Leopards), a hybrid cross of Epimetheus fuscoguttatus x E. lancelatolatus, which reach market size in five months; a second hybrid Epimetheus fuscoguttatus x E. polyhedron; and Mouse grouper, Completes actively. Together with EAA’s in house nutritionist the company has been conducting fish food trials with black soldier fly protein larvae meal.
The company has looked at cryogenic sperm preservation, especially since one giant grouper can produce 200ml to 300ml per extraction, and only 1ml is needed to fertilize a million eggs. Bet hell says there is a lot of variability present when marble grouper are ready to spawn, including the moon cycles.
Its firm and silky texture are highly sought after by many fine dining restaurants in Asia. Groupers and snappers are important food fish, supplying protein to coastal families and fetching a good price (often sold fresh rather than frozen) in markets.
Grouper are characterized by heavy bodies, big heads, and large mouths. About 75% of all grouper consumed in the US is imported from Latin America, and demand is mostly regional and ethnic.
Alternatives to grouper are tile fish, Lake Victoria perch, and rock fish. Red grouper are caught in the Gulf of Mexico and the Western Caribbean, and black grouper are caught in the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific side of Latin America.
The harvest season in Latin America is June through November and domestically in the fall. A common preparation method throughout the West Indian and Latino populations is to cover a head-on gutted grouper in salt and some spices, bake, and present with the salt cover on, then crack at the table.