Fact Sheet

U.S. Caribbean Undersea Treasures Are Worth Saving

Pew works to protect ocean life for healthy ecosystems and thriving communities

Caribbean Ocean© Getty Images

Caribbean fishing boats.

The crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, diverse colorful fish, and brilliant coral reefs of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands teem with life that draws locals and tourists from around the globe and powers the local economies. The Pew Charitable Trusts collaborates with local leaders and stakeholders to safeguard reefs, fish spawning sites, and other critical habitat to help guarantee that the ocean’s bounty will support the Caribbean’s lifestyle and preserve its treasured environmental jewels.

Fish populations underpin healthy ocean ecosystems in which the interdependence of sea life is delicately balanced, so ensuring abundant and healthy fish stocks in the Caribbean is critically important. Parrotfish, for example, clean coral reefs by eating algae that would otherwise smother them. Other species, such as dolphin fish, deep-water snappers, red hind, and queen triggerfish, have important ocean roles but also serve as favorite meals in homes and restaurants.

U.S. Caribbean leaders have made progress toward ending and preventing overfishing, and the time is now to take a more comprehensive approach to protecting ocean resources.

Fish© Shutterstock

Queen triggerfish .

Our goal

Pew works to ensure robust, healthy oceans that can support fishing, tourism, jobs, recreational opportunities, and seafood for generations to come and advances an approach to fisheries management that takes into account the interdependent nature of ocean life.

Priorities

  • Habitat protection. Healthy marine habitats help foster a vibrant ecosystem that can support a sustainable supply of fish for commercial and recreational fishers and fishing businesses. Pew works to secure protections for essential habitat, particularly fish spawning sites and coral reef ecosystems.
  • A big-picture approach to fisheries management. To ensure healthy and sustainable fish populations, fishery managers must consider the many factors that affect fish, including where they live, shelter, and spawn; what they eat; what eats them; and changing ocean conditions, including warming and acidification, as well as the human influence on the oceans. Pew works to persuade decision-makers to set rules that account for the interconnected nature of marine ecosystems.

Who we are 

The Pew Charitable Trusts is an independent global nonprofit organization that is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. The organization, funded by trusts from the Pew family, applies a rigorous, science-based approach to improve public policy, inform the public, and invigorate civic life.

School of fish© Shutterstock

Stoplight parrotfish.

How we work

In Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Pew collaborates with fishers, scientists, fishery managers, and local nonprofit organizations and agencies in charge of safeguarding natural resources to advance the protection and effective use of marine resources. Pew also works with the seven-member Caribbean Fishery Management Council, which governs fishing in federal waters—3 to 200 miles off the Virgin Islands and 9 to 200 miles off Puerto Rico—and comprises recreational and commercial fishers, state agency managers, and a representative from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service.

Stay informed

Robust fish populations and healthy oceans can sustain fishing jobs, strengthen tourism, help businesses prosper, and deliver economic and social benefits to coastal communities.

Please support Pew’s work by staying up to date on important ocean conservation issues.

Visit our website at http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/projects/caribbean-ocean-conservation and sign up for our newsletter.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @PewEnvironment.

People eating by the Caribbean Ocean© Shutterstock

Seafood dining.

Media Contact

Debbie Salamone

Officer, Communications

321.972.5020