The Ministry of Home Affairs wishes to advise the public that, following recent amendments to the Fisheries (Protected Areas) Order 2000, the Red Hind aggregation areas within the Seasonally Protected Areas will be open to fishing from today (August 15th, 2017). However, it should be noted that the extended closure areas around Black Grouper aggregations will remain closed to fishing until December 1st.
The public will recall that the Seasonally Protected Areas were closed early for the first time this year, on April 15th, although fishing has historically been prohibited in these areas from the beginning of May through the end of August. These closures were put in place in the 1970s to protect hinds and groupers from excessive fishing when they come together in large groups to spawn.
However, in recent years, there appears to have been a shift in when aggregations first form for the season, and large catches of Red Hind occurred from the “Hind Grounds” during the month of April in both 2016 and 2014. Technical officers of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources think that Red Hind are gathering earlier to spawn in some years because of increased sea water temperatures.
Following consultations with stakeholders, it was agreed that the Red Hind aggregation sites needed greater protection and it was decided to move the closure period for the Seasonally Protected Areas forward by two weeks. Therefore the closure period for the “Hind Grounds” will now run from April 15th through August 14th each year.
The larger Black Grouper has a longer spawning season than the Red Hind, and this species forms aggregations from the spring through the month of November. This is why fishing will be prohibited in the extended closure areas through November 30th each year.
These measures have been put in place to afford greater protection to these important spawning aggregations going forward. The exact boundaries of the Seasonally Protected Areas and extended closure areas are shown in the two accompanying maps, below, which also include the GPS co-ordinates for the four corners of each area.
Amendments have also been made to the Fisheries Regulations 2010 in order to further protect the Red Hind. These are:
- The addition of a year-round catch limit for recreational fishers of ten Red Hind per boat or per person fishing from shore within a 24 hour period and;
- A catch limit for commercial fishermen of 50 Red Hind per boat within a 24 hour period during the month of April.
The catch limit of ten Red Hinds per 24 hour period from May 1 to August 31 remains in place for commercial fishermen.
The fishing public is also reminded that there is a year-round catch limit of one Black Grouper per boat or per person fishing from shore within a 24 hour period for all fishers.
In addition, fishers are reminded that Marine Resources officers are conducting tagging studies on Red Hind and Black Grouper to better understand their movements around the Bermuda Platform, particularly at spawning aggregations sites. All fishers are encouraged to contact the Marine Resources Section at 293-5600 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you catch a tagged Red Hind or Black Grouper. All tags taken from examined fish will be entered into a draw. Four $500 Masters Ltd. gift certificates will be awarded throughout the year. The draw for the first certificate will be held on September 1, 2017.
The tagging studies will provide important information that technical officers from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources can use to help evaluate the effectiveness of these new protective measures, and the intention is to review these measures once sufficient data have been collected.
The Ministry urges the public to familiarize themselves with the Seasonally Protected Areas and extended closure areas, and to abide by the Fisheries Regulations in order to help conserve our Red Hind and Black Grouper populations.
For more information contact the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Marine Resources Section at 293-5600 or email@example.com
Fisheries seasonally protected areas
Southwestern seasonally protected area
Northeastern seasonally protected area