The goliath grouper Epinephelus itajara (Lichtenstein, 1822) is an integral part of traditional coastal fisheries in Belize; however, recent anecdotal reports suggest declining catches, mean size and abundance, particularly of large adults. Quantifying goliath grouper abundance in the waters of Belize is an important first step in developing management plans that can protect stocks of the species as well as local fishing communities. To characterize the status of the goliath grouper in southern Belize, we used a 2 yr market survey, fishery-dependent collections and passive tagging. Market surveys revealed that the vast majority (98% or 1412) of 1441 goliath groupers examined at a fish market comprised juveniles. Eight of the 64 interviewed fishers were responsible for most of the catches (67.2%). Size distributions of goliath grouper collected from coastal to outer reef areas using setlines, longlines and drumlines confirmed the overall paucity of adults in local populations.
Small‐scale fishing has affected abundance and size distributions of deepwater snappers and groupers in the MesoAmerican region
Deepwater fsheries in the Caribbean Sea are poorly studied and mostly unmanaged, despite their importance to local economies and food security. In the MesoAmerican region,