Executive Director of the Montego Bay Marine Park Trust, Hugh Shim, is imploring fishers not to catch small parrotfish that have not yet reproduced.
He notes that while he is not proposing a ban on catching parrotfish, the small ones should be declared off limits.
“The problem with the parrotfish is that [Jamaicans] love them so much, that we will catch them when they are three and five inches [in length]; in other words, they have not yet reproduced. So, the population will go down if they are not reproducing,” he pointed out.
“I am for controlling the size of the parrotfish that we get and, of course, protecting the [coral reef] nurseries. So, if we can control the 14 nurseries that we have in the coastal regions around Jamaica, then the parrotfish will grow. To me, that is the simple solution,” Mr. Shim outlined.
He noted that there are two fish sanctuaries in Montego Bay where fishing is prohibited. The Marine Park Trust is tasked with keeping these areas protected.
Mr. Shim, who was addressing a Think Tank held at the Jamaica Information Service’s (JIS) Montego Bay Regional Office in St. James on Tuesday (June 28), highlighted the importance of the parrotfish in keeping the coral reefs clean.
“What it does is clean the reef and algae that grows on the reef. Parrotfish are not the only ones who eat the algae, but they are the main consumers; so, they are the reef keepers,” Mr. Shim noted.
The Montego Bay Marine Park Trust is marking its 30th anniversary this year, and several activities are slated to commemorate the milestone.
These include the release of a song called ‘Discover Sea Life’, which highlights the work of the marine park, and media interviews to sensitise the public about the purpose of the entity.