Grouper scientists get together

December 17, 2014

CLP team meets Co-Chair of the IUCN Grouper and Wrasse Specialist Group

Gustavo Castellanos and his team received a CLP Future Conservationist award in 2010 to support their work to protect the Pacific goliath grouper (Epinephelus quinquefasciatus). Recently, the team were delighted to host a visit by Dr Matthew Craig, Co-Chair of the IUCN Grouper and Wrasse Specialist Group.

The team had established contact with Dr Craig back in 2011, as he was the lead author of a key paper recognising the differences between the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean populations of goliath grouper. He was also co-author of the most recent guide of groupers of the world (2011).

‘For a long time we’ve wanted to compare outcomes of our CLP project with the work that Dr Craig has carried out on goliath groupers in the Panamanian Pacific. Finally, in 2014 we were invited to participate in an IUCN workshop on threatened marine fish in Colombia which was the perfect opportunity to meet Dr Craig. We planned to show him our work and observe the artisanal fisheries dynamics in Buenaventura, the main fishing port in the Colombian Pacific,’ said Gustavo.

The team showed Dr Craig that in Buenaventura there is a unique fishery based on the exploitation of different grouper species including the goliath grouper. This is one of the only places in the tropical eastern Pacific where goliath groupers are still abundant and part of the fisheries’ landings. The team showed their guest their continuous monitoring of grouper landings in Buenaventura and collected some biological samples to compare with Dr Craig’s data for the Panamanian Pacific.

In the future the team members plan to incorporate the results of their work in Colombia in to the regional IUCN assessments of goliath grouper thereby providing a more comprehensive understanding of the situation of this species in the Pacific. They also hope that Dr Craig can advise and cooperate with the team in tasks such as manuscript writing and developing new proposals to conserve this iconic fish in Colombia.

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