Parks and groupers

Carleton Ray (cr at
Thu, 26 Sep 1996 16:39:35 -0400

Dear Bob, Jack, and Les:

The messages among us on this subject illustrate how gossipy and misleading
the internet can become! In response to a message from Bob on the subject
of disruption of fish spawning by recreational acivities, I added the
almost casual request for any information on groupers, thinking, of course,
of visitor overuse of such protected areas as the Exuma Cays Land-and-Sea
Park in the Bahamas, which I helped found back in 1958-9. The "dubious"
conclusions to which I referred are not necessarily those of TNC's report
(which is apparently restricted), but interpretations perpetrated among
local persons: i.e., as I said in my message to Bob "that the more mature
grouper, the more babies will be recruited..." Bob replied as follows:
"...that more spawning means more local, of course,
dubious in fish [with] such long pelagic larval stages..." So we both used
that awful word.

Do we not all know that recruitment processes are perhaps THE major issue
facing fishery forrecasting (a conclusion reached long ago by ICES, for
example)? And, is it not incumbent on us all to include this in our remarks
abouts fish numbers and spawning? (Incidently, Les, the work st Lee
Stocking Island was that of David Nadeau and David Eggleston of North
Carolina State Univ., as reported at the last Benthic Ecology Meeting,
Univ. So. Carolina, 1996. They reported that recruitment of Nassau grouper
was much higher in macroalgae than in seagrass.)

Now, as a result of all this, I feel as if I must debate with Jack Sobel,
with whom I happen to agree on so many things! E.g., "There is now
overwhelming evidence that reserves that reserves can play an important
role in increasing populations..." Right on!. Nevertheless, unless we know
where the Parks' groupers breed, which we don't, and how their larvae are
transported and recruited, which we don't either,the population will still
vulnerable, even though the public may think otherwise. I visit the Bahamas
often, having in fact just returned last wee, and unfortunately, the
translation of work on groupers in the Park into the public consciousness
leaves considerable room for improvement.

I suggest that we cease forthwith this "debate". Also, perhaps it would be
nice to be careful about reading other people's mail.

All the best to you all, Carleton