Mapping Belizean bonefish, permit, and tarpon fisheries and their threats
This research uses a multidisciplinary approach to provide a broad perspective on the location of Belizean Bonefish, Permit, and Tarpon (BPT) fisheries and their threats. Participatory mapping and ethnographic surveying of the professional sport-fishing guide community was completed. In addition to reporting the locations of BPT and their threats, this research uses high resolution satellite remote sensing (3m) to examine seagrass changes in a portion of the South Water Caye Marine Reserve (SWCMR) from 2001 to 2016. Professional sport fishing guides ranked gillnets as the most threatening activity to Belizean BPT stocks, and most guides reported that the quality of sport-fishing of BPT has declined over their career. One of these threats is the loss of seagrass, a crucial habitat for BPT. Remote sensing analysis of a study area in the SWCMR suggests spatial variability of seagrass decline and regeneration, with a 2.5% average increase in overall seagrass distribution with at least 30% cover, with most of the regeneration occurring in shallow waters sheltered from ocean wave action. Decline in seagrass distribution was observed in deeper waters subjected to ocean currents and potential dredging. The results of both studies are assimilated to discuss potential avenues of research and the prioritization of recreational fisheries management in Belize.