New rules are based on more than a decade of collaborative fisheries research carried out by the Grouper Moon Project, a conservation research program initiated by Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) in collaboration with the Cayman Islands Department of Environment.
On 15 August, 2016, the Cayman Islands government enacted a comprehensive set of regulations aimed at recovering Nassau Grouper, an endangered Caribbean reef fish.
- All take, possession, or sale of Nassau Grouper is prohibited from December through April, inclusive (during the spawning months for the species)
- When take is permitted (May – November), only fish between 16″-24” can be kept and no more than 5 Nassau Grouper per fishing vessel per day can be kept
- Nassau Grouper may not be taken on spear gun
The project is the Caribbean’s oldest continuous grouper spawning aggregation research program, and represents one of the most advanced, multi-faceted tropical fisheries research programs in the world.
Nassau Grouper represent some of the most important fisheries in the Cayman Islands. They also contribute to the tourism economy by providing unique and highly sought-after interactive diving experiences, and play a crucial role in maintaining reef ecosystems in the region. The Nassau Grouper fishery was harvested to the point of collapse in the 1980s. Decades of fisheries research and adaptive management in the Cayman Islands have sparked a recovery in the species. The new regulations, enacted earlier this week, represent the culmination of the Cayman Islands’ commitment to science-based fisheries management.