A fish called the “Nassau grouper” seems to be regrouping itself back to healthy population levels thanks to the collaborative efforts of scientists, conservationists and government officials in the Grand Cayman Islands.

The Nassau grouper, which came upon hard times due to overfishing, became a focal point of attention of conservationists in the late 1990’s. The plight of the fish even led to the formation of the Grouper Moon Project in 2002 – an effort bringing together the Grand Cayman environment department, Scripps Oceanography, Oregon State University and a citizen conservation group called Reef Environmental Education Foundation, or REEF.

As a result of their combined efforts to establish fishing restrictions in certain spawning areas, impose catch limits, and prohibit fishing outright between December to April, the numbers of the black and silvery fish have swum back to sustainable levels.According to a study in the journal Nature, the “Nassau grouper have undergone a remarkable recovery … [and] because of the implementation of these deliberate, science-based conservation strategies, Little Cayman is now home to the largest remaining identified Nassau grouper aggregation anywhere in the world.”

The story was also covered in the online publication Mongabay, which added:

“This really demonstrates the power of this collaborative approach to conservation,” Christy Pattengill-Semmens, a co-author and the director of science for REEF, said in the statement. “We were able to monitor the population and provide information to support management as the data came in, allowing the Cayman government to respond rapidly with policy changes.”

Scripps Oceanography’s Brice Semmens called the project “an ideal approach for conservation.”

“Just doing the science isn’t enough,” he said, “You need to partner with groups and governments capable of turning science into conservation decisions that support the local community.”


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