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Resource Managers and Stakeholders Collaborate to Conserve Bonefish in Belize

Research over the past few years by BTT associate scientist Addiel Perez identified a bonefish pre-spawning site, with the spawning site likely near northern Ambergris Caye. The research shows that bonefish migrate to this pre-spawning site from throughout the region--from San Pedro and Corozal Bay in Belize, Chetumal Bay and Xcalak in Mexico, and beyond. This means that any damage to this important site or harvest of these pre-spawning fish threatens the region’s economically important bonefish fishery.

As a continuation of this work, and to take the next steps in conservation, earlier this month Perez led the first collaborative effort between stakeholders (El Pescador Lodge and Villas, Omar’s Freelance Fishing, Blue Bonefish) and resource managers (Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Belize Fisheries Department) to monitor bonefish pre-spawning activity. The goals of this collaboration are to continue the research to better understand bonefish spawning behavior, begin the process of education so that the importance of this location is known, and build a strong conservation partnership. 

“The important next step is to use this new knowledge to inform stakeholders and resource managers for better decision making,” said Perez.

Javier Paredez, manager of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, agreed. “Information generated through science is important for us as managers because it informs and enables us to make correct decisions," he said. "We hope to continue partnering with BTT in efforts like these.”

And even though the focus of this collaboration is local, the implications are regional, since these pre-spawning and spawning sites provide new bonefish to the local populations and also the larger seascape, which includes Florida. Click here to learn more about bonefish connectivity across the Caribbean. 

Photo 1: Addiel Perez collects a blood sample from a bonefish.

Photo 2: Addiel Perez tags a bonefish. 

Photos courtesy of Addiel Perez