ST JOHN’S, Antigua – A Fisheries Division report has called for “urgent action” to ensure the protection of a species of fish vital importance to the twin island state’s marine life.
The report, released by the division last month, cites “the impact the proliferation of spear fishing and gill netting has had on the parrotfish (chub) fishery.”
The study describes the practice as “an emerging issue that is paramount to the sustainability of exports, and other economic sectors (dive and recreational tour operators).”
Currently, no regulations exist to conserve parrotfish, as well as other traditional seafood (whelks, cockle, etc).
“Given the role parrotfish plays as a major producer of sand and as a “cleaner” of reefs by reducing sedimentation and algal growth, protection of this species is vital to the tourism product,” the study noted.
“The reported low abundance of these fishes in recent times as far afield as Barbuda, hampers the development of the dive and recreational tour sectors, in addition to reducing the resilience of our reefs to climate change.”
The report concluded, “Urgent action is needed to ensure these species do not disappear from our reefs.”
The protection of Antigua & Barbuda’s scarce fishing resources, including lobster, has been widely debated in recent weeks. Stakeholders have called for a closed fishing season but the Fisheries Division said it cannot act until the necessary regulations are approved by the relevant authorities.