Coral reefs, marine life, and idyllic beaches power the Caribbean economy, drawing millions of tourists to the region each year. By embracing science-based management to ensure healthy fish populations and protect ocean ecosystems, federal fishery managers in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico can help deliver bountiful seafood, productive fishing, on- and underwater enjoyment, and economic strength for generations to come.
As a first step, U.S. Caribbean fishery managers have begun developing island-based management plans that account for the unique culture, economy, and lifestyle of each island and how those factors influence the way people use ocean resources. This effort sets the stage for pursuit of a more modern, comprehensive strategy, known as ecosystem-based fisheries management, which involves protecting habitat where fish live and spawn and considering the interactions among predators and prey to help counter the effects of threats from climate change, ocean acidification, pollution, and invasive species, such as the Pacific lionfish.
Protecting the Caribbean’s valuable marine assets is growing ever more economically important. Smart management that takes a big-picture view of a healthy ocean is a vital and achievable part of that effort.