Protected fishing areas to close early
Fishing in Seasonally Protected Areas, also known as “Hind Grounds” and “Grouper Grounds”, will be prohibited from April 15 to protect spawning red hinds, the Ministry of Environment has announced.
According to a statement, the decision to bring the closure period forward by two weeks comes after consultation with stakeholders determined that red hind aggregation sites need more protection.
“In recent years, there appears to have been a shift in when red hind first aggregate for the season, and large catches of red hind were taken from the Hind Grounds last April, and also in April 2014,” the Ministry said. “Technical officers of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources think that red hind are gathering to spawn earlier because of increased seawater temperatures.”
The statement added that legislation will be proposed to open these areas on August 15 and make the early closure date permanent so that fishing will not be allowed in the Hind Grounds between April 15 to August 14 each year.
According to the Ministry, the early closure of the Seasonally Protected Areas will also afford greater protection to black grouper spawning aggregations, and the public is reminded that there was a bag limit of one black grouper per boat per day year round for all fishermen. And while the bag limit of ten red hind per boat per day from May 1 through August 31 will remain in place for commercial fishermen, this limit will now apply to recreational fishers throughout the year. Additionally, a bag limit of 50 red hind per boat per day in April will be implemented for commercial fishermen.
Fishermen are also reminded that Marine Resources officers are conducting tagging studies on red hind and black grouper to better understand their movements around the Bermuda Platform, particularly at spawning aggregations sites. All fishermen are encouraged to contact the Marine Resources Section at 293-5600 or email@example.com if they catch a tagged red hind or black grouper.
All tags taken from examined fish will be entered into a draw. A $500 Masters Ltd gift certificate will be awarded on each of the following draw dates: June 1, 2017; December 1, 2017; June 1, 2018; and December 1, 2018.
Furthermore, the Ministry urged the public to familiarise themselves with the Seasonally Protected Areas and abide by the Fisheries Regulations in order to help conserve red hind and black grouper populations. The exact boundaries of the Seasonally Protected Areas are shown in the images above, which also include the GPS co-ordinates for the four corners of each area.
• For more information contact the Marine Resources Section at 293-5600 or firstname.lastname@example.org