Fisheries, marine conservation and management in The Bahamas

This program takes a multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder approach towards fisheries and marine conservation within an ecosystem-based management approach. Research branches out to important issues of food security, sustainable livelihoods, conservation, and marine management that are internationally important and locally relevant. Research areas align with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) priorities and address some of the world’s biggest challenges of nature conservation and sustainable use of resources with a focus on coastal marine areas and small-scale fisheries.

As an island ecosystem, Eleuthera is both ecologically important and has economic value, with fisheries providing an important natural resource for local communities that have limited access to alternative livelihoods.

Our Research

Within this program, major research areas include: assessments of top fisheries and important habitat, evaluating effectiveness of marine protected areas, assessing social-economic aspects, and community-based approaches to fisheries and conservation.
One specific focus in this program is evaluating the queen conch fishery, the second biggest fishery in The Bahamas. An important food source, as well as the source of livelihood for many local fishermen, queen conch populations are being depleted to dangerously low levels, and little is known of the current status of the stocks.

There are several recent and ongoing projects:

Assessing queen conch breeding grounds- Do queen conch still utilize historical breeding grounds? Are the densities high enough to facilitate mating?

Surveying historical queen conch nursery grounds- Are nursery grounds of juvenile conch as healthy as they were 20 years ago? 10 years ago?

Locating conch nursery habitat- Utilizing shoreline surveys to identify previously unidentified nursery habitat.

Midden surveys- How has local conch harvest changed? What is the age structure of the conch harvest?

Conch “graveyard” study- Do conch alter their behavior when exposed to “knocked” shells?

Fisher’s perceptions of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)- What are local fishers’ views on marine conservation and marine management?

Assessing the effectiveness of the proposed South Eleuthera MPA- Combining the research of several teams to address whether the proposed MPA for South Eleuthera would be adequate, effective, practical, and successful.

 

Collaboration & Support

CEI is working with the Bahamas National Trust as part of their “Conch”servation campaign, with the main goal of promoting a sustainable queen conch fishery. Started in 2013, this campaign is focused on educating Bahamians on the current status of conch, conch life history, and actions we can take today to ensure there are conch in the future. The Sustainable Fisheries program also works with One Eleuthera in conducting fishermen interviews and assessing sustainable livelihoods in South Eleuthera. The Sustainable Fisheries team has also recently partnered with the Shedd Aquarium as part of a nationwide survey of conch populations.

For more information, please contact program manager Annabelle Brooks at annabellebrooks@ceibahamas.org.