Three marine biology post graduate students from The Netherlands are starting up their projects on fisheries and biodiversity on Saba Bank, in collaboration with Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF) and Institute for Marine Resources and Ecosystem Studies (IMARES).
Groningen University student Wouter van Looijengoed will try to estimate the fish biodiversity on the Bank with a technique called “Baited Remote Underwater Video” (BRUV). With this technique a metal frame holding two cameras will be placed on the seafloor in different places at Saba Bank. After one hour of filming the cameras will be taken back to the office for analysis. Using special developed
software, researchers will be able to determine relative species abundance and the length of fishes. In this way they will be able to learn more about the animals living on Saba Bank without disturbing them. Another advantage of this relatively new method is that it can be used at depths beyond the reach of divers. Information gathered from this project is to contribute to the baseline knowledge of the fish community on Saba Bank and is expected to provide a benchmark for future management of the Bank’s fish community.
Michelle Boonstra of University of Amsterdam will have a close look on the redfish (red snapper) fishery. She will be interviewing fishermen, measuring fish, counting species and sometimes joining the fishermen on trips to the Bank. The research is to provide more insight in the current status of the redfish population and their biology.
The project of Imke van Gerwen (Groningen University) will be focused on the Caribbean Spiny lobster (Panulirus argus). Her daily work will be similar to Boonstra’s, so there is a big chance to find both working at Fort Bay. Van Gerwen will start up two pilot-studies, among which the recruitment of the spiny lobsters. To this end collectors are built to catch small larvae and juveniles. Over time, the data collected from this study will be used to make a recruitment index.
The second project will be the ”tagging” study, for which a couple hundred lobsters will be caught and tagged with an individual number, after which they will be released again. When the tagged lobsters are re-caught, information on growth, migration and abundance will be obtained over a longer period. The data of these last two projects will be compared with previous research, to see whether things like catch rates and sizes of fish and lobster have changed over time.
Besides contributing to the knowledge on redfish, lobsters and their fishery, these projects are to develop suitable methods for a long-term monitoring programme in the near future.