Times of the Islands Winter 2015-16

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Presents the "soul of the Turks & Caicos Islands" with in-depth features about local people, culture, history, environment, businesses, resorts, restaurants and activities.

green pages newsletter of the department of environment & maritime affairs

As each vessel enters the weighing station, a sub-sample

of the catch is collected. Each individual is weighed,

measured by carapace length, and sex, sexual maturity,

molting stage, and reproductive stage are determined.

Fishers are asked where they captured most of their

product and at what depth. The data is provided to all

stakeholders. This in turns acts like a “springboard” for

open discussions between TCI Government, fishers and

processing operators.

In addition to assisting DEMA with commercial catch

information on the spiny lobster, SFS has also monitored

juvenile recruitment that is independent of commercial

catches. After extensive evaluation, one site near South

Caicos was selected for the study. Here, ten juvenile

lobster “condos” have been deployed since 2008 and

monitored for numbers of juveniles to recruit to these

condos. The habitat for this location is that of Larencia

sp., an alga in which juvenile lobsters find safety from

predators and an available supply of food.

Once a month, SFS CMRS staff and students visit the

“condos” and collect all juvenile lobster. Individuals are

measured for carapace length, sex, and stage of molting.

These lobsters are then released to continue their growth

and progression into the fishery. This information can

be used with commercial catch data for comparison and

potential predictions of future commercial catches.

Fishing industries are often prime illustrations of the

universal push-and-pull between economic and preservation

interests. While maintaining this delicate balance

is still difficult for the TCI spiny lobster, South Caicos

stakeholders have assembled the collaboration needed to

monitor, predict, and thereby mitigate potential declines

in spiny lobster stock and recruitment levels. Continued

collaboration between economic and ecological interests

will lead to mutually beneficial marine management

strategies for TCI fisheries. With increasing stakeholder

involvement, DEMA guidance, and research support from

the School for Field Studies, we can be proactive to protect

these economically important species. a

The School for Field Studies (SFS) is a US-based academic

institution that provides multidisciplinary, field-based

environmental study abroad opportunities to undergraduate

university students. Each SFS program (nine in total)

highlights a different region of the world, with its own

distinct cultural and ecological characteristics and unique

From top: SFS interns collect juvenile lobsters from “condos,” measure

them as part of faculty’s ongoing research, then release them

back into the sea.

environmental challenges. Faculty and students at the SFS

CMRS on South Caicos work in close cooperation with local

partners including the TCI’s Department of Environment

and Maritime Affairs (DEMA), TCReef Inc. (www.tcreef.

org), and local fishermen and processing plants to protect

and enhance the management of the island’s coral reefs

and other marine resources. To learn more, go to www.

fieldstudies.org/tci. a

KATHY LOCKHART EVA RAMEY SCHOOL FOR FIELD STUDIES

Times of the Islands Winter 2015/16 27

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