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Subject: Society for the Conservation of Reef Fish Aggregations
From: [log in to unmask]
Reply-To:Scientific forum on fish and fisheries <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 24 Aug 2000 19:40:40 EDT

text/plain (78 lines)


On 21 June 2000, La Paz, Mexico, was the venue for a symposium entitled The
Importance of Spawning Aggregations in the Lives of Reef Fishes.  The
symposium, as part of the annual meeting of the American Society of
Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, drew experts from around the world's
oceans.  It was the first opportunity in many years for scientists working in
this area to gather and share their knowledge and experience.  This gathering
proved to be the catalyst for several informal meetings where scientists and
marine resource managers voiced their collective concern for the dire need to
better manage reef fish spawning aggregations.  By the end of the symposium,
this group had decided to join in a formal partnership based on the idea that
together we can raise awareness and develop initiatives to better manage reef
fish spawning aggregations as a valuable and irreplaceable resource.  This
new partnership, the Society for the Conservation of Reef Fish Aggregations
(SCRFA), has formed based on a common belief in the following Mission

Mission Statement:

The Society for the Conservation of Reef fish Aggregations (SCRFA) strives to
promote and facilitate the international conservation and management of reef
fish spawning aggregations.

Through the announcement of SCRFA, we hope to recruit a diverse membership,
attracting representatives from regulatory bodies, NGO's, scientists, fishery
managers, educators and the private sector.  Together this membership will
directly support, promote, influence and facilitate relevant initiatives as
an independent body. Activities to be developed, or promoted by SCRFA will
range from ongoing documentation of aggregation status throughout the
tropics, facilitation of the development of appropriate fishery specific
management approaches, conservation and management policy, and awareness
raising. Fundraising initiatives will be directed to these various
activities. For those who may have an interest in SCRFA, we have provided
below some basic background information regarding reef fish spawning
aggregations.  A second meeting is now being scheduled to take place in
October during the 9th ICRS meetings in Bali, Indonesia.  If you are
interested in participating in SCRFA, please reply to this message and
provide your contact information to be placed on the email list.


Many reef fishes are known to aggregate in large numbers at specific times
and places to reproduce.  These spawning aggregation sites are often located
at the outer reef edge or reef passes.  Some sites may be used by many
species, either simultaneously or at different times of day, month or year.
Once they have been discovered, the predictable nature of these aggregations
makes them extremely vulnerable to overexploitation.  Overfishing has already
depleted a substantial number of such reproductive gatherings in the
Caribbean.  Although scientific documentation is lacking for Asia-Pacific,
considerable anecdotal evidence also suggests that many spawning aggregations
of groupers (Serranidae) are systematically being destroyed by the live reef
food fish trade, especially in Indonesia and the western Pacific.  Many
remaining aggregations throughout the tropics are seriously depleted and may
soon disappear if they are not quickly protected.  These aggregations are
bottlenecks in the lives of many reef fish species, their conservation is
critical for the persistence of the populations that form them and many are
in urgent need of protection.

Aggregating species of reef fish could be protected by site-based management
or by incorporating the aggregation site into marine protected areas.
Alternatively, fishing closures during the brief annual spawning aggregation
periods might be an effective approach. There is presently little awareness
of this problem, very little incorporation of the aggregation phenomenon into
fishery management plans, and no comprehensive global conservation strategy
to address aggregation protection.  Improvement in these areas is the
founding strategy of SCRFA.

Contact: Michael L. Domeier, Ph.D., President, Pfleger Institute of
Environmental Research, 1400 North Pacific Street, Oceanside, CA 920554 USA
[log in to unmask] (760) 721-1440

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