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The queen conch fishery of Belize : an assessment of the resource, harvest sector and management Strasdine, Susan Anne 1988

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THE QUEEN CONCH FISHERY OF BELIZE: AN ASSESSMENT OF THE RESOURCE, HARVEST SECTOR AND MANAGEMENT By SUSAN ANNE STRASDINE B.Sc, The University of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1980 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (In t e r d i s c i p l i n a r y Studies, Resource Management Science) We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA January 1988 © Susan Anne Strasdine, 1988 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. The University of British Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 DE-6(3/81) i i ABSTRACT The p r i m a r y g o a l of t h i s s t u d y was t o e v a l u a t e p o t e n t i a l management o p t i o n s f o r t h e conch (Strombus q i q a s ) f i s h e r y of B e l i z e based on b i o l o g i c a l a n a l y s e s of the p r e s e n t f i s h e r y . The s p e c i f i c o b j e c t i v e s were t o : 1) a s s e s s the c o n d i t i o n of the s t o c k ; 2) e s t i m a t e t h e p o s s i b l e y i e l d of t h e r e s o u r c e ; and 3) recommend v i a b l e a l t e r n a t i v e s f o r management. I n f o r m a t i o n on p o p u l a t i o n dynamics of Strombus q i q a s was o b t a i n e d l a r g e l y from t h e l i t e r a t u r e . A y i e l d - p e r - r e c r u i t a n a l y s i s was conducted t o g a i n an u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f how changes i n t h e age of e n t r y i n t o t h e f i s h e r y and m o r t a l i t y and growth r a t e s e f f e c t y i e l d . H i s t o r i c a l r e c o r d s on l a n d i n g s and f i s h i n g e f f o r t o b t a i n e d from th e f i s h i n g c o o p e r a t i v e s were a n a l y z e d t o a s s e s s t h e s t a t e of the s t o c k . L a n d i n g s - p e r - u n i t - e f f o r t was c a l c u l a t e d i n a manner unique t o t h e q u a n t i t y and q u a l i t y of d a t a a v a i l a b l e . The s t r u c t u r e o f t h e c u r r e n t management system, o p e r a t i o n s of t h e f i s h i n g c o o p e r a t i v e s and r o u t i n e s o f f i s h e r m e n were a l s o c o n s i d e r e d i n t h e f i n a l e v a l u a t i o n of v i a b l e management o p t i o n s . Conch was f i r s t e x p o r t e d by B e l i z e around 1950 but t h e f i s h e r y remained s m a l l u n t i l 1967. E x p o r t s then c l i m b e d d r a m a t i c a l l y from 174,000 kg i n 1967 t o 562,634 kg i n 1972. D u r i n g the remainder of t h e 1970's, p r o d u c t i o n d e c l i n e d due t o a d e c l i n e i n s t o c k biomass and s u b s e q u e n t l y , e f f o r t . T y p i c a l of a l l e x p l o i t e d p o p u l a t i o n s , biomass d e c r e a s e d as t h e abundance of o l d e r a d u l t s d e c l i n e d and t h e s i z e d i s t r i b u t i o n o f the c a t c h s h i f t e d toward s m a l l e r i n d i v i d u a l s . The m o d i f i c a t i o n of h a r v e s t i i i r a t e t h e r e a f t e r i s b e l i e v e d t o be an o p e r a t i o n a l response of the f l e e t t o a mixed s p e c i e s r e s o u r c e . As t h e r e l a t i v e abundance, market v a l u e and d i s t r i b u t i o n of l o b s t e r , conch and s c a l e f i s h change, f i s h e r m e n a l t e r t h e i r h a r v e s t i n g s t r a t e g y i n o r d e r t o maximize t h e i r economic r e t u r n s p e r t r i p . By t h e 1980*s, th e conch f i s h e r y was e s s e n t i a l l y s e a s o n a l w i t h r o u g h l y one t h i r d of t h e y e a r ' s t o t a l p r o d u c t i o n b e i n g d e l i v e r e d w i t h i n t h e f i r s t month (October) of t h e n i n e season. S i z e l i m i t s and a c l o s e d season were implemented i n 1978 and t h e s i z e o f meats l a n d e d a t t h e f i s h i n g c o o p e r a t i v e s i n c r e a s e d from an average of 66 gm i n 1976 t o 131 gm i n 1985. F i s h i n g e f f o r t f o r conch r o s e from 1980 t o 1984 due t o an i n c r e a s e i n t h e a b s o l u t e number of conch d i v e r s and remained h i g h i n 1985 and 1986. L a n d i n g s p e r man-day (md) v a r i e d l i t t l e between 1978 and 1984; average l a n d i n g s - p e r - u n i t - e f f o r t (LPUE) o v e r t h i s p e r i o d (15.0 kg/md) was one t h i r d t h e LPUE of t h e l a t e 1960's. However, i n 1985 and 1986 LPUE dropped d r a m a t i c a l l y ; a consequence most l i k e l y of r e c r u i t m e n t v a r i a b i l i t y and/or growth o v e r f i s h i n g i n i n t e n s e l y f i s h e d a r e a s . The c u r r e n t minimum l i m i t on s h e l l l e n g t h (17.8 cm) i s l e s s t h a n t h e p r e d i c t e d s i z e of f i r s t c a p t u r e a t w h i c h y i e l d - p e r -r e c r u i t i s maximized ( i . e . , 21.7 cm s h e l l l e n g t h ; 113 gm marketed meat w e i g h t ) . P r e s e n t r e g u l a t i o n s a l s o a l l o w f i s h e r m e n t o h a r v e s t conch b e f o r e t h e y a r e c a p a b l e of r e p r o d u c i n g . I t i s recommended t h a t more s t r i n g e n t measures be t a k e n t o reduce t h e p o s s i b i l i t y of r e c r u i t m e n t o v e r f i s h i n g u n t i l a more thorough i v assessment of t h e r e s o u r c e can be made. Improvements r e g a r d i n g t h e c o l l e c t i o n of d a t a n e c e s s a r y f o r s t o c k assessment are s u g g e s t e d . The management o p t i o n s c o n s i d e r e d most a p p r o p r i a t e f o r the conch f i s h e r y of B e l i z e a t p r e s e n t i n c l u d e , i n o r d e r of im p o r t a n c e : s i z e l i m i t s , season c l o s u r e s and gear r e s t r i c t i o n s . A r e g u l a t i o n p r o h i b i t i n g t h e h a r v e s t of n o n l i p p e d i n d i v i d u a l s would be most e f f e c t i v e i n p r o t e c t i n g t h e b r e e d i n g p o p u l a t i o n . However, t h i s measure i s d i f f i c u l t t o e n f o r c e because conch are c l e a n e d a t s e a . Hence, a minimum s i z e r e s t r i c t i o n on market-c l e a n e d meats c o r r e s p o n d i n g t o t h e average meat y i e l d of a d u l t s (120 gm; 4.2 oz) i s s u g g e s t e d as w e l l . M a i n t a i n i n g t h e c u r r e n t 3-month c l o s e d season and p r o h i b i t i o n on h a r v e s t i n g u s i n g SCUBA o f f e r s a d d i t i o n a l p r o t e c t i o n i n t h a t t h e s e r e s t r i c t i o n s reduce th e chances t h a t f i s h e r m e n w i l l h a r v e s t spawning a d u l t s and a d u l t s which have m i g r a t e d i n t o deep-water r e f u g e s . V TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ABSTRACT i i LIST OF TABLES ix LIST OF FIGURES x i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS x i i i CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION 1.1 The Setting 1 1.2 Previous Assessments of the Conch Resource 7 1.3 Study Objectives and Thesis Outline 9 CHAPTER TWO: METHODOLOGY 2.1 Sources of Information 11 2.2 Morphometric Studies 12 2.3 Growth Studies 2.3.1 Sampling procedures 13 2.3.2 Tagging procedures 14 2.3.3 Parameter estimation for growth model 16 2.4 Dockside Survey 17 2.4.1 Interviews with fishermen 17 2.4.2 Sampling of landings 18 2.4.3 Catch curve analysis 19 2.5 Yield-Per-Recruit Analysis 20 2.6 S t a t i s t i c s C o l l e c t i o n 20 2.6.1 Belize Fisheries Department 21 2.6.2 Fishing cooperatives 23 vi 2.6.3 Landings data 24 2.6.4 Fishing licenses 26 2.6.5. E f f o r t data 28 CHAPTER THREE: BIOLOGICAL BASIS OF THE FISHERY 3.1 L i f e History and Ecology of Strombus qiqas 29 3.2 Morphometric Studies 35 3.3 Growth Parameters 39 3.3.1 Length-frequency analyses 42 3.3.2 Tag-recapture studies 48 3.4. Mo r t a l i t y in Conch Populations 49 3.4.1 Published values 49 3.4.2 Catch curve analysis 54 3.5 Size and Age Compostion of Fishable Populations 3.5.1 Average si z e of conch meats landed 57 3.5.2 Mean age at recruitment 60 3.5.3 Mean age at f i r s t capture 60 3.5.4 Longevity 61 3.6 Yield-Per-Recruit Analysis 61 CHAPTER FOUR: THE HARVEST SECTOR 4.1 Development of the Small-scale Fisheries of Belize . 71 4.2 Fishing Cooperatives 73 4.3 The Conch Fishery 82 4.3.1 The f i s h i n g f l e e t 82 4.3.2 Crewmen 8 7 4.3.3 Time at sea 8 8 4.3.4 Areas fished 8 9 4.3.5 Methods of capture 91 v i i CHAPTER FIVE: TRENDS IN LANDINGS AND EFFORT 5.1 Conch Landings 93 5.2 Number of Fishermen Landing Conch 5.2.1 Total number of fishermen in Belize 105 5.2.2 Proportion of fishermen de l i v e r i n g conch .... 107 5.3 Standardization of e f f o r t data 5.3.1 Man-days fished by ' t r i p ' fishermen I l l 5.3.2 A l l o c a t i o n of e f f o r t among species 113 5.4 Landings-Per-Unit-Effort 114 5.4.1 Sarteneja Cooperative (1978-1982) 116 5.4.2 Other cooperatives (1984 fi s h i n g season) .... 118 5.4.3 Fisheries Department data 119 5.4.4 Annual landings s t a t i s t i c s 120 5.5 Total Annual E f f o r t 129 5.6 Synopsis of the Conch Fishery's Development 132 CHAPTER SIX: MANAGEMENT 6.1 H i s t o r i c a l Overview 138 6.2 Existing Management System 6.2.1 Management objectives 140 6.2.2 Management authorities 141 6.2.3 Current regulations 144 6.2.4 Enforcement 147 6.3 Management Options 149 6.3.1 Effectiveness of options in meeting harvest strategies 6.3.1.1 Quota 150 6.3.1.2 Closed season 151 6.3.1.3 Limiting e f f o r t 154 v i i i 6.3.1.4 Gear r e s t r i c t i o n s 155 6.3.1.5 Size l i m i t s 155 6.3.1.6 Closed areas 159 6.3.1.7 Economic measures 161 6.3.2 Information requirements, implementation and enforcement 161 6.3.3 Regulations from the industry's perspective . 164 6.3.4 Recommended approach 167 6.4 Suggestions for data c o l l e c t i o n 171 CONCLUSIONS 176 SUMMARY 183 LITERATURE CITED 192 APPENDICES I. Sources of f i s h e r i e s information 208 II. Information gathered during interviews with fishermen 209 II I . Recording d a i l y landings of conch 211 IV. Cooperative produce voucher 212 V. Fishing license applications 213 VI. Annual production of conch, lobster and scale f i s h by each f i s h i n g cooperative 214 VII. Estimation of the maximum number of days per year that could be spent f i s h i n g conch 216 ix LIST OF TABLES TABLE Page 1.1 Be l i z e : Key economic indicators (1981-1984) 5 3.1 Shell length-weight relationships for Strombus gigas 36 3.2 Lip thickness-weight relationships for Strombus gigas 37 3.3 Calculated mean lengths of the f i r s t , second and t h i r d size classes for Strombus gigas 40 3.4 Estimates of von Bertalanffy parameters derived from tagging data for Strombus gigas 41 3.5 Mean lengths and estimated ages of modes i d e n t i f i e d in s i z e - d i s t r i b u t i o n s of Tres Cocos population .... 44 3.6 Values of published instantaneous natural mortality rate for Strombus gigas 50 4.1 Exports of major f i s h commodities and average price received on the foreign market 77 4.2 Prices/kg received by fishermen for major f i s h commodities 81 5.1 Number of cooperative fishermen 99 5.2 Relative percent of cooperative fishermen d e l i v e r i n g conch 100 X 5.3 Variation in estimates of landings-per-unit-effort (LPUE) 117 5.4 Estimated average LPUE for the year based on co-op. landings s t a t i s t i c s and Fisheries Dept. data 121 5.5 LPUE in major f i s h i n g grounds 122 5.6 Estimated t o t a l annual e f f o r t 130 xi LIST OF FIGURES FIGURE Page 1.1 Map of Belize 2 3.1 Size-frequency d i s t r i b u t i o n s for the Tres Cocos population 43 3.2 Catch curves constructed from s i z e composition data on landings sampled in 1985 56 3.3 Y i e l d contour diagram for Strombus qigas 62 3.4 Yield-per-recruit as a function of f i s h i n g mortality 64 3.5 Yield-per-recruit as a function of mean age at f i r s t capture 65 3.6 Change in y i e l d - p e r - r e c r u i t with v a r i a t i o n in K 68 3.7 Change in y i e l d - p e r - r e c r u i t with v a r i a t i o n in natural mortality 69 4.1 V-bottom s k i f f (outboard) 83 4.2 Small dugout canoe (LOA< 5m) 83 4.3 Large dugout canoe or "dory" (LOA> 5m) 85 4.4 S a i l i n g c r a f t ("dry-boat") 85 5.1 Conch exports and production (1956-1986) 94 5.2 Conch production by each cooperative 96 5.3 Lobster production by each cooperative 97 xii 5.4 Scale f i s h production by each cooperative 98 5.5 Monthly landings of conch in 1968 and 1976 102 5.6 Monthly production of conch, lobster and scale f i s h in 1984 103 5.7 Number of active fishermen in each co-op 110 5.8 Conch fishermen's interest in other commodities 115 5.9 Estimated t o t a l annual landings and e f f o r t and average LPUE (1967-1985) 131 5.10 Landings and LPUE as a function of e f f o r t 133 x i i i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Of t h e many B e l i z e a n s t o whom thanks a r e due, I g r a t e f u l l y acknowledge t h e a i d of t h e f i s h e r m e n and t h e e n t i r e s t a f f of t h e B e l i z e F i s h e r i e s Department, the C o o p e r a t i v e s and C r e d i t Unions Department, t h e f i s h i n g c o o p e r a t i v e s and t h e B e l i z e Fishermen C o o p e r a t i v e s A s s o c i a t i o n . S p e c i a l g r a t i t u d e goes t o Mr. Winston M i l l e r , Mr. Norman A u g u s t i n e , Mr. Robert Usher and Mr. Raymond B r a d l e y . The a d v i c e and s u p p o r t of my academic a d v i s o r , Dr. N. J . W i l i m o v s k y , i s g r e a t l y a p p r e c i a t e d . The c o n s t r u c t i v e comments made by Dr. R. Appeld o o r n on e a r l i e r d r a f t s of the m a n u s c r i p t and time d e v o t e d by my t u t o r s i n computer p r o g r a m i n g , Don Robinson and B a r r y Smith a r e a l s o acknowledged. I owe s i n c e r e t hanks t o P h i l i p p e B a r o i s f o r h i s encouragement, e d i t i n g and f i n e c a r t o g r a p h y , and t o Dr. W. H. L. A l l s o p p and Dr. G. Jamieson f o r t h e i r g u i d a n c e from t h e v e r y b e g i n n i n g , when t h i s s t u d y was m e r e l y a dream. F i n a n c i a l s u p p o r t f o r t h i s s t u d y was r e c e i v e d from the I n t e r n a t i o n a l Development R e s e a r c h C e n t r e of Canada i n t h e form of a P o s t P r o j e c t Award f o r which I am most g r a t e f u l . 1 CHAPTER ONE Introduct ion 1.1 The Setting Belize, formerly known as B r i t i s h Honduras, i s positioned between the Caribbean Sea along i t s eastern coast, Mexico on the north and Guatemala to the west and south (Figure 1.1). It has been an independent nation since September 21, 1981 and i s now a member of the B r i t i s h Commonwealth and the United Nations. The country has an area of nearly 23,000 square km ( i . e . , s l i g h t l y larger than the State of Massachusetts) and i t s estimated population was 161,500 in 1984 (Government of Belize, 1985a). Creoles, an ethnic group of African o r i g i n , account for half of the population. The remainder is made up of Mayan Indians, Mestizos (Spanish-Maya), Garifunas (Afro-Carib) and peoples of European, East Indian and Asian descent (Belize Ministry of Education, 1984). The land in the north of Belize is low and f l a t , but in the south-west there i s a heavily forested mountain massif with a general elevation of between 600 m and 900 m. The coastal areas are low and swampy, and the mangrove coastline i s sculptured by many s a l t and fresh water lagoons and some sandy beaches. The Belize continental shelf i s approximately 250 km long and 15 to 50 km wide (Purdy et a l . , 1975). It consists of a seaward reef-caye complex and a shoreward lagoon system. The b a r r i e r reef occurring along the seaward edge i s said to be the largest e»*|oo' w MEXICO Fishing Cooperatives 0 8 10 16 20 25 Km Caribbean Sea Domlnlcl Rtput ColOQbU^ u . scfbo aeloo' w Figure 1.1 M a p of Belize 3 continuous b a r r i e r reef in the West Indies (Smith, 1948). Outside the b a r r i e r reef there are three a t o l l s : the Turneffe Islands, Glover's Reef and Lighthouse Reef. The climate in Belize i s t r o p i c a l , tempered by north-easterly trade winds which blow consistently through the spring and summer. Temperatures in coastal d i s t r i c t s may reach 35.6 degrees C in the hotter months of May through August. Between November and February there are cold s p e l l s l a s t i n g for three to four days during which the temperatures may f a l l to 10 degrees C. There are sharp annual variations of r a i n f a l l , but the average is generally around 190 cm in the north and 430 cm in the south. Hurricane season extends from June to November. The country has experienced four hurricanes in the past t h i r t y years: one in 1961 (H. Hattie), two smaller hurricanes in 1974 and the most recent in September of 1978 (H. Greta). The economy of Belize i s predominantly a g r i c u l t u r a l with a narrow range of a g r i c u l t u r a l exports and a recurrent trade d e f i c i t . There i s l i t t l e i n d u s t r i a l i z a t i o n and high unemployment. In 1984, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was estimated to be $365 m i l l i o n BZ at current prices and $2,260 BZ per capita ($1.00 BZ = $0.50 U.S.; United Nations, 1986a). Agriculture currently provides some 65% of the country's t o t a l foreign exchange earnings and employs around 30% of the labour force. The main export crops, in order of importance, are sugar, c i t r u s and bananas. Maize, beans and r i c e are the main food crops c u l t i v a t e d and livestock production i s on the increase. 4 Forest products were h i s t o r i c a l l y the country's most important export, but their r e l a t i v e importance has f a l l e n . Fish products are the fourth most valuable export items afte r sugar, garments and c i t r u s (Table 1.1). They accounted for 7.3% of t o t a l domestic exports in 1984. The most important commodities are spiny lobster, conch (a gastropod), shrimp and "scale" f i s h (the l a t t e r i s a c o l l o q u i a l term used by Belizeans to describe f i n f i s h with s c a l e s ) . Fishing i s centralized largely through fishermen-owned production and marketing cooperatives. The industry as a whole employs about 1200 f u l l -time fishermen, 500 part-time fishermen, 200 f i s h i n g cooperative employees and many others in the services sector. Fish consumption per capita, although higher in coastal c i t i e s (22.7 kg/annum), i s low in the country as a whole (Rabb and Adams, 1983). If the weight of f i s h products sold l o c a l l y by the cooperatives in 1984 was doubled to account for unreported sales, estimated consumption for that year would be roughly two kg per person (304740 kg/161500 people). The natural resources of Belize and th e i r importance to the country's economic development are reviewed by Setzekorn (1975), Perkins (1983), the Belize Ministry of Education (1984) and Bolland (1986). National p o l i c i e s governing f i s h e r i e s development in Belize are geared toward four goals (Government of Belize, 1983a): "1) To investigate and establish as far as possible the state of the f i s h habitats, f i s h population and fishery resources of Belize and to restore where necessary, monitor and r a t i o n a l l y u t i l i z e a l l of the f i s h resources of the country; Table 1.1 Belize : Key economic indicators (Money values in m i l l i o n $BZ) 1981 1982 1983 1984 TRADE ACCOUNTS: Gross Imports 323.9 256.0 223.6 252.1 Gross Exports 238.0 182.0 155.5 191.7 Balance of Trade -85.9 -74.0 -68.1 -60.4 Re-Exports 88.5 62.4 25.2 41.4 Domestic Exports 149.5 119.6 130.3 150.6 Retained Imports 235.3 193.6 198.4 211.0 EXPORTS: Sugar 85.3 65.7 68.3 78.4 Garments 22.1 12.7 16.8 29.9 Citrus Products 13.0 14.1 13.7 18.9 Fish Products* 13.4 12.3 13.9 13.3 Bananas 4.3 4.2 4.8 5.4 Molasses 2.4 1.8 1.9 3.4 Timber 2.6 3.8 2.7 2.1 Honey 0.5 0.3 0.4 0.5 Modified af t e r Government of Belize, 1985a (Table 1) * Value of f i s h exports as reported by the Fisheries Dept. 6 2) To improve processing and marketing c a p a b i l i t i e s within the f i s h i n g industry thereby increasing the supply of wholesome seafood products for both l o c a l and export markets; 3) To encourage the development of economically viable aquaculture industries; and 4) To improve and expand surveillance and enforcement c a p a b i l i t i e s in order to c u r t a i l the u t i l i z a t i o n of national resources by foreigners and the i l l e g a l e x ploitation and marketing by Belizeans." This study i s concerned with the f i r s t of the above national goals, and more s p e c i f i c a l l y , the management of the queen conch (Strombus gigas) fishery. In terms of economic value, t h i s fishery i s the t h i r d most important in Belize. Conch exports accounted for roughly 10% of the t o t a l value of f i s h exports in 1986: FISHERY EXPORTS, 1986 Commodity Value ($ BZ) Lobster $9,372,048 Shrimp $2,359,520 Conch $1,436,850 Scale f i s h Whole f i s h $852,198 F i l l e t $273,190 Live shrimp (post larvae) $39,341 SW Aquarium Fish $32,700 Stone Crab Claws $10,556 Dry Salted Fish $6,606 TOTAL $14,382,928 Source: Belize Fisheries Department The conch resource is highly valued by the industry as a substitute source of income when the lobster season is closed and when the abundance of alternate species i s low. The Government of Belize has been concerned about the state of the stock and the p o s s i b i l i t y of overfishing since conch were f i r s t 7 exported to the United States on a large scale in 1967. Different management proposals have been considered but a proper assessment of the status of the f i s h e r y has not yet been made. 1.2 Previous Assessments of the Conch Resource There have been three large research programs i n i t i a t e d in Belize to obtain the b i o l o g i c a l and s t a t i s t i c a l information needed to make recommendations regarding management of the resource. The f i r s t commenced in 1970 when the government considered implementing a quota system for conch. It involved the c o l l e c t i o n of f i s h e r i e s s t a t i s t i c s , tagging to determine the growth rate of conch and sampling to estimate the optimal meat yield/age r a t i o (Baird, 1971; Rosa, 1977). Results of this program are described in a FAO report by Baird (1973). The second major research program was i n i t i a t e d in the mid-1970 's following proposals to implement a closed season. Studies conducted dealt with: 1) growth; 2) morphometric development; 3) age at sexual maturity; 4) spawning and breeding periods and behavior; 5) environmental factors associated with periods of greatest sexual a c t i v i t y ; and 6) population structure (Blakesley, 1976; M i t c h e l l , 1976). A legal s i z e l i m i t and 3-month closed season were imposed soon after the results of these studies were summarized (Blakesley, 1977). In 1980, the Fisheries Department launched another conch project with assistance from the International Development 8 Research Centre of Canada (IDRC). The objectives were to study the l i f e h i story of the conch, to examine the b i o l o g i c a l basis for management and to explore the u t i l i z a t i o n of s h e l l s and the f e a s i b i l i t y of conch mariculture (Gibson et a l . , 1983; Government of Belize, 1983b). A second phase of thi s project commenced in March of 1985, but l i t t l e was accomplished during this extension. A genetic and demographic assessment of Strombus  qiqas f i s h e r i e s was also i n i t i a t e d in Belize in 1985. This project, j o i n t l y funded by the Government of Belize and the United States Agency for International Development, led to the construction of a conch hatchery and research f a c i l i t y which is s t i l l in operation today. Results of studies conducted at the f a c i l i t y have not yet been published. With the exception of Phase I • of the IDRC study, the o r i g i n a l data from the above studies are d i f f i c u l t to f i n d . Some records were destroyed in the 1978 hurricane and others have simply been misplaced. Due to changing personnel and limited documentation in the past, those that can be located are d i f f i c u l t to interpret. Much of the data compiled were not evaluated and results were generally inconclusive. Some f i s h e r i e s s t a t i s t i c s were co l l e c t e d but no assessment of the stock was made and l i t t l e feedback was provided on the adequacy of existing regulations. This study was undertaken to update what i s known of the conch fishery in Belize and the resource on which i t i s based. In meeting the s p e c i f i c objectives stated below, t h i s study also describes the nature of the f i s h e r i e s management problem and the research needed to improve the 9 q u a l i t y of s c i e n t i f i c advice available to managers. 1.3 Study Objectives and Thesis Outline The primary goal of this study was to evaluate potential management options for the conch fishery of Belize based on b i o l o g i c a l analyses of the present fishery. To a t t a i n t h i s goal, three objectives were proposed: 1) To assess the condition of the stock; 2) To estimate the poten t i a l y i e l d of the resource; and 3) To recommend viable alternatives for management. Information on population dynamics of Strombus gigas was obtained largely from the l i t e r a t u r e . A yi e l d - p e r - r e c r u i t analysis was conducted to gain an understanding of how changes in the age of entry into the fishery, mortality and growth rates e f f e c t y i e l d . Fisheries s t a t i s t i c s obtained from the fi s h i n g cooperatives on landings and the number of active fishermen were analyzed and a means to assess stock status with the data available devised. The structure of current management system, operations of the fi s h i n g cooperatives and routines of fishermen were also considered in the f i n a l evaluation of potential management options. This comprehensive review on the status of the fishery was undertaken as an i n t e r d i s c i p l i n a r y study. It incorporates information on the organization and development of the conch industry as well as that needed for b i o l o g i c a l assessments. The manuscript was written to address a wide audience. The thesis i s 10 divided as follows. Chapter Two outlines the various data sources and stock assessment techniques used in t h i s study. Chapter Three concentrates on b i o l o g i c a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the species and the dynamics of exploited conch populations. In Chapter Four, the state of development of Belize f i s h e r i e s and fi s h i n g practices for conch are reviewed. An o r i g i n a l analysis of h i s t o r i c a l landings and e f f o r t data to calculate an index of stock abundance and assess the present condition of the stock is presented in Chapter Five. The l a s t chapter summarizes the i n s t i t u t i o n a l aspects of f i s h e r i e s management in Belize. Management options considered viable for the conch fishery are evaluated and the i r requisite data reviewed. Modifications to the exi s t i n g data c o l l e c t i o n system are also proposed. 11 CHAPTER TWO Methodology 2.1 Sources of Information Information on the conch fishery was obtained from four primary sources in Belize during a three-month v i s i t to the country in the summer of 1985 (Appendix I ) : 1) Fisheries Department, 2) Cooperatives and Credit Unions Department, 3) Fishing Cooperative Societies, and 4) Belize Fishermen Cooperative Association (BFCA). Four of the nine f i s h i n g cooperatives active in Belize export conch. These s o c i e t i e s , and the cooperative that was active in Sarteneja u n t i l 1982, are the focus of thi s study. They are referred to in the text by the f i r s t part of t h e i r f u l l t i t l e (Appendix I ) . Literature was gathered from each of the above o f f i c e s and government o f f i c i a l s and executive secretaries of the cooperatives were interviewed. The 1985 Annual General Meeting of three of the f i s h i n g cooperatives was also attended. Morphometric and growth data used in t h i s report were provided by the Fisheries Department; as a b i o l o g i s t of the Fisheries Department from 1981 to 1983, I was in charge of the i r c o l l e c t i o n (Strasdine, 1984). Methods used in the c o l l e c t i o n and analysis of these data are described in sections 2.2 and 2.3 of th i s chapter. Current data on landings-per-unit-effort and the si z e composition of landings were coll e c t e d during a dockside survey conducted in June, -1985; sampling procedures are 12 described in section 2.4. Section 2.5 pertains to the yield-per-r e c r u i t analysis and f i s h e r i e s s t a t i s t i c s c o l l e c t e d from the above o f f i c e s are outlined in section 2.6. 2.2 Morphometric Studies Morphometric measurements were made of 204 conch collected from the Boca Chica study s i t e in A p r i l and May of 1982 (Figure 1.1). The individuals sampled ranged in size from 13.3 to 26.3 cm. The sex of conch was determined by the presence of a verge in males and genital groove in females ( L i t t l e , 1965). A conch was removed from i t s s h e l l by severing the columellar muscle attachment from the s h e l l axis. This process by which t h i s i s done (termed "knocking the conch") has been i l l u s t r a t e d by Childress (1985). The weight of the animal's softparts is referred to hereafter as tissue weight. The following measurements were made and recorded for each conch sampled: t o t a l weight, s h e l l weight, tissue weight (wet), marketed-meat weight (wet), maximum s h e l l length and l i p thickness. Specimens were drained b r i e f l y to remove excess water and weighed on a t r i p l e beam balance to the nearest gram. Length and l i p -thickness measurements were made with vernier c a l i p e r s to the nearest 0.1 cm. To market clean conch, the viscera i s discarded, the mantle, operculum, snout and eyes are skinned off the remaining softparts, and the esophagus is scraped clean. The meat of the conch, i . e . , the foot and columellar muscle with.a fragment of 13 skin on i t , i s a l l that remains. In some countries, marketed-meat weight refers to the softparts minus the viscera only; in others, the foot and columellar muscle are f u l l y skinned. The l a t t e r is customarily c a l l e d a f u l l - f i l l e t . In the analysis of morphometric data, geometric mean (GM) functional regressions of various weight-length relationships were calculated (Ricker, 1973). Symmetrical confidence l i m i t s were used for the GM regressions. 2.3 Growth Studies 2.3.1 Sampling procedures Growth was studied in two conch populations located near the v i l l a g e of San Pedro, on Ambergris Caye (Figure 1.1). The f i r s t population was situated in a shallow back-reef area c a l l e d Tres Cocos. The study s i t e established there covered an area of 1.2 sq. km and was bordered on the east by the reef crest, the west by Ambergris Caye and on either end by natural channels cut through the reef. Water depth in the channels reached a maximum depth of 12.0 m but the average depth in the s i t e was 2.2 m. Variation in substratum types within the s i t e formed four d i s t i n c t zones: the beach, sand, grass and rubble zones. The largest of these was the grass zone which accounted for 64.7% of the s i t e ' s o v e r a l l area. A s t r a t i f i e d random sampling program was used to sample conch over the four substratum types. A g r i d system was designed to encompass the s p a t i a l range of the 14 population. It consisted of f i f t e e n transects placed 100 m apart and delineated by stakes positioned every 10 m. These transects ran perpendicular to the reef and shore. Conch were sampled by 100 sq. m quadrats (50 X 2 m) positioned randomly in the s i t e . Sampling was repeated f i v e times during the course of a year from June 30, 1982 to July 1, 1983. Samples were coll e c t e d over a period of two to three weeks. The mid-point of a sampling period was the date used to place the sample on a time scale for length-frequency analyses. The second study s i t e was established in the Boca Chica region, a vast expanse of grass and sand f l a t s off the southern t i p of Ambergris Caye. The average water depth was 6 m. The bottom consisted of a mosaic of sand and seagrass beds. These were randomly d i s t r i b u t e d creating an o v e r a l l homogeneous bottom, quite d i f f e r e n t from the sequential zonation observed at Tres Cocos. The sampling design at Boca Chica consisted of an array of nine c i r c l e s , each 10 m in diameter. The f i r s t c i r c l e was randomly placed and the remaining c i r c l e s were spaced in a 3 X 3 g r i d , each approximately 20 m apart. The number and s i z e of conch in each c i r c l e were recorded once a month from October, 1981 to February, 1982 and again in May, 1982. Sampling was completed in one day. 2.3.2 Tagging procedures Conch were coll e c t e d by divers and brought to the surface to be. measured and tagged. Siphonal length ( t i p of the spire to 15 d i s t a l end of siphonal canal) was measured to the nearest 0.1 cm using vernier c a l i p e r s . Spaghetti tags threaded by nylon-coated st a i n l e s s s t e e l wire were used to mark the animals. The wire tag was threaded through two holes d r i l l e d in the s h e l l at the edge of the l a s t whorl and secured on the outside by a crimped sleeve. Tags were further secured by new s h e l l material l a i d over the holes by the conch. Upon subsequent sightings, tag number was recorded and s h e l l dimensions remeasured. During the course of sampling, 3000 conch were tagged at Tres Cocos and 800 at Boca Chica. Tagged animals recovered at Tres Cocos and Boca Chica were at large for variable lengths of time. Time of l i b e r t y for returns from Tres Cocos ranged from 10 to 235 days (n=100; x=137; sd=60.0); at Boca Chica, the range was f i v e to 196 days (n=53; x=64; sd=49.9). Fishermen were not allowed to f i s h in these research s i t e s . Three other sets of tagging data for Belize were analyzed: 1) Recaptures from a population of juveniles near Water Caye; 2) Returns from fishermen following a coast-wide tagging program; and 3) Tag-recapture data col l e c t e d by the Fisheries Department in 1976 & 1977. Water Caye i s situated 20 km southeast of Belize Ci t y (Figure 1.1). It was one of seven s i t e s v i s i t e d during a coast-wide tagging program conducted by the Fisheries Department in 1982 and 1983. At t h i s s i t e , 139 animals were tagged o r i g i n a l l y in July of 1982 and 11 were recovered on a subsequent sampling three months l a t e r . Few animals tagged by the Fisheries 16 Department were returned by fishermen and measurements of several of those that were, were incorrect ( i . e . , indicated negative growth). As a result, only 32 returns from fishermen were analyzed. Results for a tagging study conducted in Belize from A p r i l 1976 to November 1977 comprise the la s t set of data, and include measurements of growth for 82 adult conch. 2.3.3 Parameter estimation for growth model In t h i s study, the growth of an individual conch in a population is expressed by the von Bertalanffy growth formula (1938): -K(t-t 0 ) L(t) = L . (1-e ) (1) where L(t) = length at age ( t ) ; = asymptotic maximum length; K = a constant which determines the rate at which the asymptotic weight is approached; and t-zero ( t 0 ) = an arb i t r a r y constant which i s , in e f f e c t , the th e o r e t i c a l o r i g i n of the age-axis. Parameters of t h i s model for Belize populations were derived by f i t t i n g the curve to length-at-age data obtained v i a length-frequency analyses and tag-recapture studies. Data available for the Boca Chica study s i t e were excluded from the length-frequency analyses because sample s i z e was not believed to be large enough to provide adequate estimates of the mean of underlying d i s t r i b u t i o n s . The length-frequency techniques are described below; tag returns were analyzed with Fabens' (1965) method. Three methods were used to analyze si z e d i s t r i b u t i o n s of 17 samples taken at Tres Cocos: the graphical methodology of Cassie (1954) and s t a t i s t i c a l methods of MacDonald and Pitcher (1979) and Schnute and Fournier (1980). The subroutine used for the Schnute and Fournier method was written by Barry Smith (U.B.C.) and incorporated into the SIMPLEX software package for the nonlinear estimation of von Bertalanffy parameters (Mittertreiner and Schnute, 1985). Length-at-age data were generated three d i f f e r e n t ways to ensure that the modes i d e n t i f i e d by the Schnute and Fournier method, and hence, von Bertalanffy parameters predicted, were r e l i a b l e . 2.4 Dockside Survey The dockside survey was conducted during the month of June in 1985, the l a s t month of the 1984/85 fi s h i n g season for conch. This was an opportune time of year to conduct a survey for conch because the season for lobster was closed. Most divers active at t h i s time are f i s h i n g s o l e l y conch and man-days (md) recorded on sales receipts refer to conch only. This is important since e f f o r t i s not t a l l i e d by commodity on the s t a t i s t i c a l forms used in Belize but rather by f i s h i n g t r i p . Other advantages of sampling during the off-season for lobster are that more fishermen are available for interviews and sampling i s easier l o g i s t i c a l l y . 2.4.1 Interviews with fishermen Conch fishermen were interviewed while landing t h e i r catch 18 at the following cooperatives: National, Northern, Caribena and Placencia (Figure 1.1). Fifty-one interviews in t o t a l were held and discussions with fishermen were informal (Appendix I I ) . The dockside survey provided data for the calc u l a t i o n of landings/md and information on f i s h i n g routines, which in turn, were used to evaluate data extracted from the sales receipts collected by cooperatives (see section 2.6). Data were also c o l l e c t e d at dockside by plant managers of Northern during the month of October, 1985 for th i s study. An outline of the information they were asked to c o l l e c t i s given in Appendix III. 2.4.2 Sampling of landings The weight of conch meats sampled at each cooperative was roughly proportional to the cooperatives' r e l a t i v e production for June, 1985; 51% of the t o t a l sample came from National, 27% from Northern, 21% from Placencia and 1% from Caribena. The landings of twenty-nine boats in t o t a l were sampled. On the days each cooperative was v i s i t e d , a l l the boats d e l i v e r i n g conch were sampled. No se l e c t i o n was made on the basis of boat type, excursion length or f i s h i n g ground. Landings delivered by each boat were sampled randomly. This was done by removing an equal number of meats from each of the baskets used to carry the catch from the boat to the receiving room of the cooperative. Thus, meats were taken from the top through to the bottom of the ice box. Sample siz e was determined by the variance in individual meat weights (Mendenhall et a l . , 19 1971). Conch meats were weighed with a top-loading balance (HOMS model 28; 900 gm (32 oz) capacity) to the nearest 3.5 gm (1/8 oz). Conch sex was indicated on market-cleaned meats by a remnant of a verge on the male and a genital groove on the female. 2.4.3 Catch curve analysis A catch curve analysis was undertaken to estimate t o t a l mortality (Z) in the conch populations of Belize. Size composition data from landings sampled in 1985 were combined to construct one length-frequency d i s t r i b u t i o n for the catch. No spec i a l e f f o r t was made to include a certain number of conch in each weight class; the sample size (n=2369) was large enough that t h i s was not considered necessary. The marketed-meat weights were converted to s h e l l length using a pooled functional regression calculated from the conch (n=214) collected at Boca Chica for morphometric studies. The calculated s h e l l lengths were grouped into intervals of 0.5 cm and the log of the frequency in each size class was plotted against length. The instantaneous rate of t o t a l mortality was estimated from the slope of the descending right arm of the catch curve. Points of the l e f t arm were not included because they represented incompletely selected and/or incompletely recruited animals. The main assumption of catch curves based on length frequencies is l i n e a r i t y in growth (Ricker, 1975). Given that absolute increase in mean length of 20 conch between successive ages is net exactly uniform over the range of ages considered here, a length-converted catch curve (Pauly, 1984) was also considered. To construct t h i s type of catch curve, the frequency of each length class is mu l t i p l i e d by the growth rate of f i s h in that cl a s s , logged and then plotted against the r e l a t i v e age corresponding to the length class. 2.5 Yield-Per-Recruit Analysis The absolute rate of recruitment is not known for Strombus  qiqas, and so, the Beverton and Holt (1957) y i e l d model was used to compute yi e l d - p e r - r e c r u i t (YPR). Assumptions of t h i s model are: 1) natural and f i s h i n g mortality are independent of age following recruitment into the fishery; 2) natural mortality and recruitment are independent of stock s i z e ; and 3) growth following recruitment approximates to the von Bertalanffy (1938) equation and the parameters of t h i s equation are independent of stock s i z e . 2.6 S t a t i s t i c s C o l l e c t i o n Since most Belizean fishermen produce more than one commodity within a year, s t a t i s t i c s were coll e c t e d for each of the three main f i s h commodities: lobster (Panulirus arqus) , conch (Strombus qiqas) and scale f i s h . The various types of scale f i s h marketed in Belize are l i s t e d in Appendix IV. Lobster data pertain to f i r s t grade product only; data on second and t h i r d grade lobster and lobster meat (as opposed to t a i l s ) were 21 not col l e c t e d . Whole and f i l l e t e d f i s h are grouped together and c l a s s i f i e d as scale f i s h unless otherwise indicated. Conch landed by fishermen are market-cleaned (refer to section 2.2). There are no commercial size categories and hence, no estimates of numbers of conch landed. The monetary unit c i t e d in t h i s report is the Belizean d o l l a r . The rate of exchange on t h i s currency was $1.00 BZ to $0.70 U.S. in 1967 and $1.00 BZ to $0.50 U.S. since 1976 (FAO, 1986). The Canadian equivalent to $1.00 BZ in 1985 was $0.68 (Customs & Excise Dept., 1985). S t a t i s t i c s are compiled d i f f e r e n t l y by the government o f f i c e s and the f i s h i n g cooperatives. To obtain the most comprehensive and r e l i a b l e database, one needs to know how the s t a t i s t i c s were co l l e c t e d and possible sources of bias. The remainder of t h i s chapter is dedicated to these topics. 2.6.1 Belize Fisheries Department The Fisheries Department has been c o l l e c t i n g s t a t i s t i c s on the f i s h i n g industry since 1954 (Libby, 1969). Their data c o l l e c t i o n system i s based on the payment receipts used by the f i s h i n g cooperatives and licensing of fishermen and t h e i r boats. On each sales receipt, fishermen are requested to record days and area fished, and the f i s h i n g method and boat type used (Appendix IV). The Department receives copies of each sales receipt but less than two percent have information on days and area fished. Nevertheless, data from completed forms have been used by the Department to calculate landings-per-unit-effort 22 (Gibson, 1981). These same data, and s t a t i s t i c s on conch exports (1956-1986) and the monthly production and l o c a l sales of each cooperative (1976-1985) were collected from the Fisheries Department for use in t h i s study. Data collected by the Department through licensing are outlined in Part III of the Belize Fisheries Regulations (Government of Belize, 1977). The applications for fi s h i n g licenses shown in Appendix V (Forms Al and BI) were photocopied for t h i s study but not a l l could be found. To obtain an accurate estimate of the number of licenses issued, a ledger of license fees paid since 1978 was consulted. Licensed fishermen are c l a s s i f i e d as cooperative fishermen when they are members of a f i s h i n g cooperative and independent fishermen when they are not. As a rule, cooperative fishermen s e l l t h e i r catch to the cooperatives and independents s e l l to the l o c a l markets; however, there are exceptions. Cooperative fishermen have been known to take lobster and conch rejected by the i r cooperative to the l o c a l market, and independents often s e l l t h e i r catch to the cooperatives v i a members to receive a higher p r i c e . Only data on sales by cooperative members to cooperatives are used in t h i s study. The Fisheries Department has estimates of the annual harvest by independent fishermen but these are based on reported sales which are believed to underestimate true harvest. The same i s true for the cooperatives' records of landings by independents. These data are of minimal use because the volume of conch delivered to 23 c o o p e r a t i v e s by nonmembers under members' names s t i l l remains unknown. There are no d a t a on l a n d i n g s by f o r e i g n f i s h e r m e n . The volume of conch taken f o r p e r s o n a l use i s a l s o unknown, but because of t h e h i g h e x p o r t market p r i c e f o r conch, i s c o n s i d e r e d to be of l i t t l e consequence. 2.6.2 F i s h i n g c o o p e r a t i v e s F i s h i n g c o o p e r a t i v e s are r e q u i r e d by law t o keep a c c u r a t e account of a l l t h e i r p u r c h a s e s and s a l e s (Government of B e l i z e , 1948 a & b ) . The s a l e s r e c e i p t completed at d o c k s i d e by f i s h e r m e n o r c o o p e r a t i v e p e r s o n n e l i s the b a s i c u n i t of the c o o p e r a t i v e s ' b ook-keeping. These r e c o r d s of weight d e l i v e r e d are t a l l i e d f o r each member. An i n d i v i d u a l ' s p r o d u c t i o n of each commodity over a f i s c a l year ( A p r i l 1 - March 31) i s e n t e r e d on what i s c a l l e d a second payment s c h e d u l e i n B e l i z e . C o o p e r a t i v e s a l s o keep t r a c k of t h e i r t o t a l monthly p r o d u c t i o n f o r each commodity and convey t h i s i n f o r m a t i o n t o the B e l i z e Fishermen C o o p e r a t i v e A s s o c i a t i o n and the F i s h e r i e s Department. O v e r a l l p r o d u c t i o n f o r the f i s c a l y e a r i s p u b l i s h e d i n the C o o p e r a t i v e ' s F i n a n c i a l R e p o r t . These r e p o r t s a r e d i s t r i b u t e d a t Annual G e n e r a l M e e t i n g s . Data f o r t h i s s t u d y were c o l l e c t e d from each type of c o o p e r a t i v e account f o r t h e f o u r l a r g e s t c o o p e r a t i v e s over t h e f o l l o w i n g time p e r i o d s : 1) Records of a l l conch s a l e s - March 15 t o June 30, 1985 ( o f f - s e a s o n f o r l o b s t e r ) ; 2) Records of members' i n d i v i d u a l d e l i v e r i e s - 1983 & 1984 (1/2 of each c o o p e r a t i v e ' s membership sampled); 3) Second payment s c h e d u l e s - 1967 t o 1984; 4) M o n t h l y p r o d u c t i o n by c o o p e r a t i v e s - 1967 t o 1985 f o r N o r t h e r n and 1976 t o 1985 f o r r e m a i n i n g c o o p e r a t i v e s ; and 24 5) Annual f i n a n c i a l reports - late 1960's to 1985. The Sarteneja Cooperative was o f f i c i a l l y declared defunct in 1982. However, s t a t i s t i c s on conch harvest for the f i v e years p r i o r to i t s closure were available from the Department of Cooperatives and Credit Unions. 2.6.3 Landings data Data on landings per year quoted in t h i s report pertain to cooperative members only and were taken from the second payment schedules of the cooperatives unless otherwise stated. It was necessary to remove landings recorded for nonmembers from the cooperatives' accounts of t o t a l production to determine landings-per-unit-effort (LPUE). In the years for which second payments schedules were missing, t o t a l s quoted in the cooperatives' f i n a n c i a l reports were used. These values are higher because they include production by nonmembers; s i g n i f i c a n t l y higher for Placencia as production by nonmembers comprises a major proportion of t h i s cooperative's t o t a l landings, but only s l i g h t l y higher for other cooperatives. If both the above references were unavailable, production figures t a l l i e d by the Fisheries Department were used. Unlike cooperative data which are based on a f i s c a l year, these pertain to a calendar year. This i s c l e a r l y indicated whenever government data are used. There is only one case in t h i s report where data for f i s c a l and calendar years are combined. Information on annual exports 25 was combined with that for t o t a l landings by fi s h i n g cooperatives to construct a longer time series of data on conch production (Chapter F i v e ) . Exports are s l i g h t l y less than landings because: 1) cooperatives reserve 10% of their production for domestic sales and 2) losses are incurred during processing as a result of cleaning, spoilage and shrinkage. However, t h i s difference is not obvious from values reported because exports are based on a calendar year and represent that of a l l fishermen, while harvest i s based on a f i s c a l year and i s harvest by members only. It should also be noted that conch meats were exported as f u l l - f i l l e t s p r i o r to 1967; therefore, exports for these e a r l i e r years are comparatively lower. Baird (1973) calculated that conch exports in the "market-cleaned" state y i e l d about 15% more than f u l l - f i l l e t s . The terms "catch" and "landings" are both used in t h i s report, but the weight of conch gathered from the sea bottom (catch) i s greater than that delivered to the cooperatives (landings). Processing the conch at sea yields a landed product weighing roughly 40% of the t o t a l soft-parts. Landings are further reduced by an estimated 5% as a result of: 1) loss at sea, including meats lost overboard, used as f i s h b a i t or eaten; 2) self-consumption; and 3) rejection of poor quality and/or undersized meats by the cooperatives. 26 2.6.4 Fishing licenses The cooperatives' membership l i s t s and Fisheries Department records of licenses were used to estimate the number of fishermen in Belize. Members l i s t e d in the cooperatives' f i n a n c i a l reports were separated by a c t i v i t y : producers and nonproducers. The names of producing members were v e r i f i e d by ref e r r i n g to the second payment schedules. A l i s t of the country's cooperative fishermen was then compared with the Fisheries Department's l i s t of licensed fishermen for each f i s c a l year. Licensed fishermen not included in the l i s t of cooperative members were designated independent fishermen: LICENSED FISHERMEN F i s c a l Total .Cooperative Independent Unidentified Year Fishermen Fishermen (% of tota l ) 1978 925 611 301 13 (1.4) 1979 938 607 317 14 (1.5) 1980 937 599 322 16 (1.7) 1981 1005 629 351 25 (2.5) 1982 1128 627 457 42 (3.7) 1983 1021 532 465 24 (2.3) 1984 1433 694 693 46 (3.2) Four discrepancies were found in these data. F i r s t , some licenses were issued twice to the same name in one year; the extra licenses are la b e l l e d as uni d e n t i f i e d in the table above. Second, some names occurred twice in the annual l i s t i n g s of cooperative members (2% of the t o t a l members). One man renewing a license for a frie n d or a fishermen beening l i s t e d by one cooperative as active and by another as inactive in the same year may explain such discrepancies but they may also simply be errors. Lastly, an average of 27.3% of cooperative members each 27 year have been active but not licensed and 9.4% of licensed cooperative fishermen have not been active: COOPERATIVE FISHERMEN F i s c . Total Licensed Licensed Active but Licensed but Year Active & active not licensed not active (A) (B) (% of A) (% of B) 1978 735 611 567 168 (22.9) 44 ( 7.2) 1979 720 607 536 184 (25.6) 71 (11.7) 1980 690 599 526 164 (23.8) 73 (12.2) 1981 755 629 556 199 (26.4) 73 (11.6) 1982 774 627 559 215 (27.8) 68 (10.8) 1983 814 532 500 314 (38.6) 32 ( 6.0) 1984 876 694 648 228 (26.0) 46 ( 6.6) The t o t a l number of active independent fishermen was estimated from license information using the conversion factors calculated above. An example of the equation used follows: F i s c . t o t a l inactive licensed active but t o t a l Year licensed - fishermen = & active + not licensed = active 1978 301 (301*0.094=28) 273 (273*0.273=75) 348 The f i n a l estimates of active independents are: INDEPENDENT FISHERMEN F i s c . Year Total licensed Total active 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 301 317 322 351 457 465 693 348 365 372 405 527 536 799 28 2.6.5 E f f o r t Data Unlike landings s t a t i s t i c s , data on annual e f f o r t (man-days) are not available; therefore, e f f o r t was derived from landings-per-unit-effort (LPUE). LPUE was estimated using data obtained from six sources: 1) Records of d a i l y production for Sartenejan fishermen (1978-1982); 2) Sales receipts c o l l e c t e d during the off-season for lobster, 1985; 3) Interviews with fishermen at dockside in June, 1985; 4) Records of Northern's landings during October, 1985; 5) Cooperatives' second payment schedules (1967-1984); and 6) Sales receipts gathered by the Fisheries Department. The Fisheries Department's sample of sales receipts corresponded to four cooperatives over the following time periods: Northern July 1975 - June 1983 Caribena January 1976 - December 1982 Placencia March 1978 - December 1982 National November 1980 - March 1981 Direct estimates of conch abundance are impractical given the length of the coast and patchy d i s t r i b u t i o n of conch along i t . Hence, changes in LPUE were examined to estimate r e l a t i v e decline in conch abundance. 29 CHAPTER THREE Bi o l o q i c a l Basis of the Fishery Understanding the r e l a t i o n between f i s h i n g a c t i v i t y and potent i a l sustainable catch requires knowledge of the species' biology and dynamics of the exploited populations. This chapter focuses largely on the estimation of parameters for the Beverton-Holt y i e l d - p e r - r e c r u i t (YPR) model. Results of morphometric studies are presented in section 3.2 and the complications encountered in ca l c u l a t i n g asymptotic weight are addressed. Parameters of the von Bertalanffy growth formula are derived by f i t t i n g the growth curve to length-at-age data obtained from length-frequency analyses and tag-recapture studies. Results obtained for populations in Belize and elsewhere in the Caribbean are discussed in section 3.3. Rates of natural and f i s h i n g mortality for S. gigas are presented in section 3.4. Other population parameters on which the Beverton and Holt model depends (eg., mean age at which f i s h are f i r s t r ecruited to the fishery ( t r ) ; mean age at f i r s t capture ( t & ) ; and longevity ( t m - , x ) ) , are considered in section 3.5. The f i n a l section summarizes the results of the analysis on YPR. 3.1 L i f e History and Ecology of Strombus gigas Strombus gigas (Linnaeus, 1758) i s a large marine s n a i l (Order Mesogastropoda) commonly referred to in many parts of the Caribbean as the queen conch. Although the Family Strombidae has 30 an almost world-wide d i s t r i b u t i o n in t r o p i c a l waters, Strombus  qiqas occurs only in the western North A t l a n t i c . It is found in Bermuda and south F l o r i d a , along Central America and northern South America to B r a z i l , and around a l l the West Indian islands (Warmke and Abbott, 1961). Other species of Strombus occurring within t h i s range include S. costatus Gmelin (milk conch), S. puqilus Linnaeus (fighting conch), S. ranius Gmelin (hawk-wing conch), S. qallus Linnaeus ( r o o s t e r - t a i l conch) and S. qoliath Schroter. The l a t t e r , an indigenous B r a z i l i a n species, may grow to a length of 40 cm and i s the largest Strombus in the world; the others range in length from about seven to 17 cm. Maximum length recorded for S. qiqas is 30 cm and maximum t o t a l weight is 3.3 kg (Randall, 1964b). Conch (pronounced "konk") is a common name used for many d i f f e r e n t kinds of large s p i r a l marine s n a i l s besides those of the genus Strombus. Among English speaking countries, the name queen or pink conch s p e c i f i e s S. qiqas . Elsewhere in the Caribbean, the common name varies with the language spoken (Brownell and Stevely, 1981). The physiology of S. qiqas is described by L i t t l e (1965). Sexes are separate and f e r t i l i z a t i o n i s i n t e r n a l . The male has a verge (copulatory organ) located on the foot under the mantle, and the female has a gen i t a l groove transversing the right hand side of the foot. The sex r a t i o i s 1:1 and females are generally greater in s h e l l length than males by 1.0 to 2.0 cm (Randall, 1964b; Alcolado, 1976). Copulation may occur several weeks before spawning and more than one male may t r y to mate with a single female. Competition between males for access to a female 31 is c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of Strombus species (Catteral and Poiner, 1983; Bradshaw-Hawkins and Sander, 1981). Breeding habits, spawning and the formation of egg masses have been described by Robertson (1959), Randall (1964b), D'Asaro (1965) and Brownell (1977). Queen conch generally mate between March and September; exact times vary with geographic location. A tendency to migrate toward open sand to spawn has been noted by several researchers; preferred substrate conditions are described by Davis et a l . (1984). Females engage in mating and egg laying many times in a single breeding season. Davis and Hesse (1983) estimated an average of eight egg masses per female are l a i d during a t y p i c a l s i x month season. There are no data on age nor on size s p e c i f i c fecundity of conch. Each egg mass may contain from 310 to 750 thousand eggs and Berg and Olsen (in press) estimate that as many as six m i l l i o n larvae may be produced by a female each year. The rate of natural mortality of larvae i s not known but assumed to be high. The development of v e l i g e r s from prehatching to premetamorphosis i s described by D'Asaro (1965). Hatching occurs in approximately f i v e days and the free-swimming v e l i g e r s remain in the water column for about three weeks before s e t t l i n g to the bottom. The extent of l a r v a l dispersion is not known for certain (Berg et a l . , in press). Metamorphosis occurs roughly 10 days after settlement (Brownell, 1977). For the f i r s t year of t h e i r bottom dwelling existence, juveniles remain buried in the sand during the day and emerge at night to feed. 32 Juveniles grow in a s p i r a l fashion u n t i l they are about three years old, then the pattern of growth changes. The animal ceases to grow in length and produces a f l a r e d s h e l l l i p instead. Growth in tissue weight continues but at a much slower rate. The l i p is formed in roughly three months, and can grow to a thickness of 17-18 mm in one year (Appeldoorn and Ballantine, 1987). Conch reach sexual maturity at some time after l i p formation. In Belize, Egan (1985) found most animals with ripe gonads had a l i p thickness of at least 4 mm. He estimates, as does Appeldoorn and Ballantine (1987), that the age of f i r s t reproduction is close to four years, i . e . , one year after the s h e l l ceases to grow in length. As the conch ages, o v e r a l l thickness of the s h e l l continues to increase and the space occupied by the softparts becomes smaller. The spire becomes worn and blunted, a pink nacre appears at the aperture and the f l e s h tends to darken. Shells are eventually weakened by the action of worms and certain boring organisms and maximum age i s estimated to be s i x to seven years (Berg, 1976; Wefer and K i l l i n g l e y , 1980). Shell c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s such as s i z e , thickness and volution, spine length and color vary widely in S. gigas (Alcolado, 1976). Differences in terminal s i z e and occurrences of dwarf forms are frequently mentioned in the l i t e r a t u r e (Randall, 1964b; Robertson, 1959). The stunted form of S. gigas i s c a l l e d "samba", a name derived from e a r l i e r debates that the dwarf form 33 may be a separate species, i . e . , S. samba (Clench and Abbott, 1941; V e r r i l l , 1948). The queen conch is a herbivore. It i s found in sandy habitats associated with coral reefs, usually amongst seagrasses where bottom disturbance and t u r b i d i t y i s low. The species occurs in the high tide l e v e l to depths of 35 m. Occurences in shallow water is attributed to a v a i l a b i l i t y of l i g h t for plant growth and optimal water temperatures (Roberston, 1961; Percharde, 1982). Notable conch predators include: Caretta  caretta (loggerhead t u r t l e ) , Dasyatis americana and Aetobatus  narinari (rays), Petrochirus dioqenes (hermit crab), Panulirus  arqus (lobster), Octopus vulgaris (octopus) and several carnivorous gastropods (eg., F a s c i o l a r i a t u l i p a , Plueroploca  qiqantica , Murex pomum and Cassis spp. ). When approached by predators, conch may exhibit a behavior known as the escape response (Berg, 1974). This involves a kicking motion whereby conch may leap half t h e i r own length. Normally, the conch p u l l s i t s e l f around in an awkward and careening fashion by anchoring i t s operculum ahead of i t s e l f and contracting i t s columellar muscle (Parker, 1922). Studies on movement and migrations of conch have been conducted by Hesse (1976) in the Turks and Caicos Islands. In the f i e l d , she determined the home-range (area over which conch habi t u a l l y t r a v e l l e d while engaged in the i r usual a c t i v i t i e s ) of conchs with s h e l l lengths of 10-13 cm (1000 sq. m) and 13-16 cm (2500-5000 sq. m). Conch greater than 17 cm had larger, 34 undetermined ranges. Maximum linear distance t r a v e l l e d was 100 m in 24 hours. Seasonal migration occurred with animals moving into shallower waters in the summer and deeper waters in the winter. The seasonal reg u l a r i t y of migrations increased with age. Hesse (1979) proposed that the movement offshore in the f a l l was to avoid surface swells and abrasion from winter storms and strong winds. Burying is another behavior c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of conch. Hesse (1979) has observed that individuals of a l l ages bury themselves in the substrate during winter storms. Long-term burying (up to six weeks) also occurs and is thought to represent a dormant period p r i o r to the reproduction season. Conch have a patchy d i s t r i b u t i o n but l i t t l e i s known about the cause or the ecological significance of t h e i r aggregations. The types of aggregations noted in conch include (Catteral and Poiner, 1983): 1) Mating aggregation - concentration of copulating individuals; 2) Cluster - concentration of inactive individuals p i l e d together in close contact; 3) Mixed age class colony - aggregation of individuals of a l l ages which p e r s i s t over time and exhibit some coordinated movements; and 4) Juvenile colony - discrete and dense patch of juveniles. Mass spawning a c t i v i t y in S. gigas i s described by Hesse (1976) and Randall (1964b). The phenomenon of winter season clumping is described by Hesse (1976) and Strasdine (1984). Ecological mechanisms which could lead to aggregations of conchs, were considered by Catteral and Poiner (1983). From t h e i r work on S. luhunas, they concluded that i n t r a s p e c i f i c a t t r a c t i o n i s an important factor which maintains the s p a t i a l structure of a l l aggregations, while habitat s p e c i f i c i t y sets the larger area in 35 which they move. 3.2 Morphometric Studies Weight-length data were provided by the Fisheries Department and included measurements of 129 juveniles and 75 adults. In t h i s report, 'adults' are conch having a f u l l y formed l i p greater than 10 mm thick. The r a t i o of females to males was es s e n t i a l l y 1:1 for both juveniles and adults. The average si z e of adult conch measured, 22.1 cm (n=75; sd=2.0), is within the range noted for S. qiqas elsewhere in the Caribbean: AVERAGE SIZES RECORDED FOR ADULT QUEEN CONCH Location Shell length N Reference (cm) V i r g i n Isles 20 .4 171 Randall (1964b) St. John/Bimini 20 .4 199 Berg (1976) Turks & Caicos 21 .3 23 Hesse (1976) Venezuela 19 .8 60 Brownell (1977) Puerto Rico 24 .1 1119 Appeldoorn and Ballantine (198 St. Croix 24 .2 240 Coulston et a l . (in press) Belize 22 .1 75 This study Geometric mean functional regressions of the relationships between s h e l l length and weight (including t o t a l , s h e l l , tissue and meat weight) and between s h e l l lip-thickness and weight are given in Tables 3.1 and 3.2, respectively. Both s h e l l deposition rate and allometric growth in tissue weight change when there is a s h i f t from s p i r a l s h e l l growth to l i p development. Length, though strongly correlated to juvenile tissue weight by sex, is not an adequate predictor of adult tissue weight. There is a Table 3.1 She'll length-weight relationships .for S. gigas. R e l a t i o n s h i p s between body p a r t s d e t e r m i n e d ^ ? ! fig f u n c t i o n a l r e g r e s s i o n . A l l weights in grams and length i n centimeters. - . Mean Mean R e l a t i o n s h i p : N TJ V r (Y-values) (X-values) Log ( T o t a l weight) = U + V Log(Length) T o t a l J u v e n i l e s 129 -0. 899 2.91 0.879 2.769 1 .266 J u v e n i l e Females 65 -0. B68 2.89 0.913 2.630 1 .280 J u v e n i l e Males 52 -1. 100 3.07 0.853 2.751 1 .253 T o t a l Adults 75 -0. 579 2.85 0.569 3.249 1 .343 Adult Females 3B -0. 289 2.63 0.532 3.273 1 .353 Adult Males 37 -0. 995 3.16 0.561 3.223 1 .333 LogCShell weight) * U + V Log(Length) T o t a l J u v e n i l e s 129 -0.969 2.BB 0.842 2.675 1 .266 J u v e n i l e Females 65 -0.BB4 2.81 0.894 2.718 1 .280 J u v e n i l e Males 52 -1.230 3.08 0.796 2.633 1 .253 T o t a l Adults 75 -0.506 2.72 0.502 3.152 1 .343 Adult Females 38 -0.176 2.47 0.461 3. 173 1 .353 Adult Males 37 -1.000 3.10 0.503 3. 130 1 .333 LogCTissue weight) = U + V Log(Length) T o t a l J u v e n i l e s 129 -1 .750 3.07 0.875 2.136 1.266 J u v e n i l e Females 65 -1.780 3.09 0.866 2.176 1.260 J u v e n i l e Males 52 -1.910 3.19 0.859 2.097 1 .253 T o t a l Adults 75 -2.590 3.81 0.679 2.526 1 .343 Adult Females 36 -2.660 3.66 0.613 2.558 1 .353 Adult Males 37 -2.660 3.86 0.716 2.493 1 .333 Log(Meat weight) = U + V Log(Length) T o t a l J u v e n i l e s 129 -2.080 3.03 0.827 1.717 1 .266 J u v e n i l e Females 65 -1.960 2.92 0.840 1 .763 1 .280 J u v e n i l e Males 52 -2.420 3.26 0.790 1 .668 1 .253 T o t a l Adults 75 -3.B20 4.44 0.622 2.142 1 .343 Adult Females 38 -3.770 4.40 0.566 2.180 1 .353 Adult Males 37 -4.050 4.61 0.636 2.104 1 .333 Log(Meat weight) « U + V Log(Tissue weight) T o t a l J u v e n i l e s 124 -0.404 0.99 0.913 1.715 2.134 J u v e n i l e Females 65 -0.297 0.95 0.934 1.766 2.179 J u v e n i l e Males 53 -0.502 1.03 0.885 1.664 2.094 T o t a l A d u l t s 75 -0.796 1.16 0.944 2. 142 2.526 Adult Females 36 -0.736 1.14 0.945 2.T80 2.558 Adult Males 37 -0.858 1.16 0.937 2.104 2.493 37 Table 3.2 Lip thickness-weight relationships for S. gigas R e l a t i o n s h i p s between body p a r t s determined usin g f u n c t i o n a l r e g r e s s i o n . A l l weights i n grains and l i p t h i c k n e s s i n m i l l i m e t e r s . Mean Mean R e l a t i o n s h i p : N U V r 2 (Y-values) (X-values) L o g f T o t a l weight) » U + V L o g ( L i p Thickness) T o t a l A d u l t s 75 2.99 0.27 0.242 3.249 0.982 Adu l t Females 38 2.96 0.31 0.250 3.273 1.011 Adult Males 37 2.99 0.24 0.224 3.223 0.952 L o g f S h e l l weight) » 0 + V L o g f L i p Thickness) T o t a l A d u l t s 75 2.90 0.25 0.277 3.152 0.982 Adult Females 38 2.88 0.29 0.295 3. 173 1.011 Adult Males 37 2.91 0.24 0.253 3.130 0.952 Log f T i s s u e weight) = U + V L o g f L i p Thickness) T o t a l A d u l t s 75 2.16 0.37 0.110 2.526 0.982 Adult Females 38 2.04 0.51 0.073 2.558 1.011 A d u l t Males 37 2.19 0.31 0.121 2.493 0.952 LogCMeat weight) = U + V L o g f L i p Thickness) T o t a l A d u l t s 75 1 .73 0.42 0.158 2.142 0.982 Adu l t Females 38 1 .63 0.55 0.137 2.180 1.011 A d u l t Males 37 1 .76 0.36 0.159 2.104 0.952 v 38 weak, co r r e l a t i o n between adult tissue weight and lip-thickness as well. Because there are differences between the growth patterns of juveniles and adults, one cannot use pooled length-weight functions to convert the von Bertalanffy parameter L to W„ . To predict adult weight, one must consider both the effect of length-growth plus the effect of l i p growth. The l a t t e r was modelled in t h i s study using an approach proposed by Appeldoorn and Ballantine (1987). For animals in Belize, "adult weight gain" (the difference between actual weights and predicted weights at onset of maturity) i s related to l i p thickness (mm) as follows (n=75; r*=0.40): For tissue weight: log(adult wgt gain+100 gm) = 2.05 + 0.246 log(lip-thickness) (2) For marketed-meat weight: log(adult wgt gain+100 gm) = 1.98 + 0.175 log(lip-thickness) (3) To avoid taking logs of negative numbers, 100 gm was added to values of adult weight gain. To obtain proper weights, 100 gm should be subtracted from the antilog of the predicted value. Asymptotic weight was calculated by summing the predicted weight for conch at onset of maturity and the maximum gain in weight of the adult. The former was based on the average length of adults in Belize (22.1 cm) and the l a t t e r on an estimate of asymptotic lip-thickness ('54.9 mm) provided by Appeldoorn and Ballantine (1987). Asymptotic tissue weight was estimated to be 438 gm and asymptotic meat weight, 191 gm. The average adult tissue and meat weights recorded during morphometric studies were 356 gm 3 9 (n=75; sd=119) and 150 gm (n=75; sd=57.9), respectively. Appeldoorn (unpubl.) has estimated the asymptotic meat weight of conch in Puerto Rico to be 275.0 gm; in the Turks and Caicos, Wood and Olsen (1983) estimated W^  to be 231.6 gm. In Belize, the value for average adult length may be biased low and asymptotic weight underestimated because there was a large number of dwarf conch (sambas) in the sample. Ideally, data from more than one area should be used in the estimation of asymptotic weight. 3.3 Growth Parameters 3.3.1 Literature review Published estimates of mean s h e l l length-at-age and von Bertalanffy parameters are presented in Tables 3.3 and 3.4, respectively. Most recent reports published on growth of Strombus gigas have pertained to juveniles (Berg, 1981; Higman, 1983; S i d d a l l , 1984, Williams, in press). Length-frequency analyses and tagging studies have been used in studies of juvenile growth, but are not applicable in the case of adults due to determinant s h e l l growth. Alternate methods used to age adults include lip-thickness-frequency analysis (Hesse, 1976; Wood and Olsen, 1983; Appeldoorn and Ballantine, 1987; Coulston et a l . , in press) and chemical analysis (Epstein and Lowenstam, 1953; Wefer and K i l l i n g l e y , 1980). Since conch are recruited to the fishery as juveniles, some combination of the methodologies above should be used to calculate a Ford-Brody growth c o e f f i c i e n t (K) for modelling.yield-per-recruit. This has not 40 Table 3.3 Mean lengths (cm) of the f i r s t , second and t h i r d s i z e c l a s s e s for Strombus gigas (based on length-frequency analyses) Geographic Date N Size C l a s s * Source Location (D/M/Y) I II III Cabo Rojo, 4/07/73 193 8.8 12.6 18.0 Berg, 1976 Puerto Rico (1.5) (1.5) (1.5) Los Roques, 19/07/76 161 7.6 12.8 18.0 Brownell et a l . Venezuela 1977 Turks & Caicos, ?/?/85 B.W.I. St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. St. Croix, U.S.V.I. 7/09/81 ?/?/84 Cuba: Cayo A n c l i t a s 1/07/73 Diego Perez B 18/05/73 " 27/08/73 Diego Perez A 18/10/73 " 19/12/73 B e l i z e : Tres Cocos 7/07/82 355 334 273** 141 1 04 222 278 1063 566 11.5 9.0 6.9 (0) 11.5 6.8 9.0 7.7 10.3 8.9 18.0 12.6 20.0 15.7 12.9 22.4 (2.2) (1.9) 18.5 21.5 12.'5 15.5 13.8 15.8 13.3 17.0 14.3 17.3 13.3 17.1 (1.0) (1.1) (1.2) Olsen, 1985 Wood and Olsen, 1983 Coulston e t a l . , in press Alcolado, 1976 This study * (Standard deviation) ** 240 animals in t h i s sample were estimated to be 4+ years o l d with a mean s i z e of 24.2 cm (SD=1.5). 41 Table 3.4 Estimates of von Bertalanffy parameters derived from tagging data for S^ . fligas O r i g i n a l Study N L w K (location) Randall, 1964b 104 (St. John, USVI) Berg, 1976 5 (St. Croix, USVI) Hesse, 1976 108 (Turks & Caicos, BWI) " 26.0 0.516 0 * 20.1 0.589 0 31.8 0.381 -0.08 ** 25.6 0.563 -0.16 *** Alcolado, 1976 38. .4 0. .330 -0. .05 (Cuba) 38. .1 0. .287 - O i ;i2 33. .4 0. ,360 -0. .13 26. .0 0. .571 -0. .09 23. .3 0. .429 -0. .09 20. .8 0, .442 -0, .09 Appeldoorn and Ballantine, 1987 141 46.0 0.250 -0.17 (Puerto Rico) Iverson et a l . , 1987 117 30.0 0.200 -0.65 (Berry I s l e s . , Bahamas) THIS STUDY: (Belize) Size Range(cm) Water Caye 11 26.9 0.290 0 7.1-13.3 Tres Cocos 100 24.2 0.286 0.03 7.3-18.3 Boca Chica 53 26.8 0.223 -0.05 7.8-21.1 Fishermen's rtns. 32 24.2 0.470 0 8.6-21.3 Blakesley, 1977 82 29.6 0.674 0 13.0-25.5 * Calculated by Berg (1976) ** Calculated by Berg and Olsen (in press) *** Calculated by Appeldoorn (unpubl.) 42 yet been accomplished and hence, K values presented in the l i t e r a t u r e need to be c r i t i c a l l y interpreted. The Belize populations for which growth data are available consist primarily of juveniles. Von Bertalanffy parameters based on these data are, therefore, considered less useful than those in the l i t e r a t u r e which cover a larger range of s i z e s . Results of analyses on Belize data are s t i l l presented to i l l u s t r a t e some of the d i f f i c u l t i e s encountered in parameter estimation for S. gigas. Length-frequency analyses and tagging studies are discussed separately below. 3.3.1 Length-frequency analyses Three year classes are believed to be present in the Tres Cocos population, but the estimated number of animals within the t h i r d age class was small (Figure 3.1). This led to d i f f i c u l t i e s in establishing a t h i r d mode. Size-frequency data were analyzed with three d i f f e r e n t methods: Cassie (1954), MacDonald and Pitcher (1979) and Schnute and Fournier (1980). This measure was taken to ensure that length-at-age data generated by the l a t t e r method (and used in the estimation of von Bertalanffy parameters) were acceptable and not adversely biased by the the effects of p a r t i a l recruitment and p a r t i a l maturation (defined below). Mean s h e l l lengths of the modal groups are presented in Table 3.5. Assuming July 1 represents mid-spawning season, mean lengths of one through three year olds in Tres Cocos are estimated to be 8.8, 13.3 and 17.1 cm, respectively. 43 200 100 F 0 J=DJ I II I Sample I 7/07/82 l r R 200! 100 • Sample II 6/11/82 r — — T i r 200 100 i r Sample III 24/01/83 l I i r N 200! 100 Sample IV 6/03/83 i i T r 200! 100- Sample V 30/06/83 ,' " '.• r 14 16 18 I 20 I 22 24 8 H E L L L E N G T H (cm) Figure 3.1 Size-frequency distribution*for the Tres Cocos population. Table 3.5 Mean lengths (cm) and estimated ages (yr) of modes i d e n t i f i e d by three different methods of size-frequency analysis in s i z e - d i s t r i b u t i o n s of the Tres Cocos population. CASSIE MACDONALD & PITCHER SCHNUTE 6 FOURNIER SAMPLE SET I ( 7/07/82; n-363) Age 0.02 1 .02 2.02 3.02 Age 0.02 1 .02 2.02 3.02 0.02 1 .02 2.02 3.02 Mean - 8.3 12.9 16.5 Mean - 8.8 13.4 17.2 - 8.8 13.3 17.1 SD - 0.95 1.05 1.08 SD - 1 .06 1.10 1.10 - 1 .03 1.14 1 .22 Prop. .005 .395 .500 .095 Prop. .000 .395 .508 .097 .391 .510 . 104 SAMPLE SET II ( 6/11/82; n-663) Age 0.35 1.35 2.35 3.35 Age 0.35 1 .35 2.35 3.35 0.35 1 .35 2.35 3.35 Mean - 10.4 15.2 19.3 Mean - 9.6 14.2 18.2 - 9.8 14.1 17.7 SD - 1 .05 1.18 0.93 SD - 0.97 1 .42 1.41 - 0.96 1 .48 1.91 Prop. .000 .700 .260 .038 Prop. .000 .664 .282 .054 - .659 .275 .070 SAMPLE SET III (24/01/83; n-635) Age 0.56 1.56 2.56 3.56 Age 0.56 1 .56 2.56 3.56 0.56 1 .56 2.56 3.56 Mean - 10.8 15.6 Mean - 10.9 14.9 17.7 - 10.7 14.6 21.5 SD - 1.17 1.72 SD - 1 .02 1.69 2.09 - 0.90 0.99 1.11 Prop. .000 .705 .291 .004 Prop. .000 .588 .352 .059 - .481 .493 .029 SAMPLE ; SET IV ( 6/03/83; n«516) Age 0.68 1.68 2.68 3.68 Age 0.68 1.68 2.68 3.68 0.68 1 .68 2.68 3.68 Mean - 10.6 14.2 Mean - 11.0 14.6 17.0 1.\' 10.3 13.4 -SD - 0.86 1.02 SD - 1.12 0.93 1 .97 0.08 0.79 2.34 -Prop. .020 .810 .156 .014 Prop. .000 .800 .130 .070 .162 .655 .335 -SAMPLE SET V (30/06/83; n-566) Age t.do 2.00 3.00 4.00 Age 1.00 2.00 3.00 4.00 1.00 2.00 3.00 4.00 Mean 7.4 11.8 16.4 Mean 8.6 12.1 16.1 - 7.9 11.9 16.6 -SD 0.73 1.24 1.21 - SD 0.78 1 .04 1.89 - 0.70 1 .12 1.64 -Prop. .252 .655 .061 .004 Prop. .290 .610 .100 - .277 .637 .091 -'Prop.' • proportion of the sample within each size class 4=. 45 Estimates of the von Bertalanffy parameters obtained for each Tres Cocos sample with the Schnute and Fournier method are given below: RESULTS OF THE SCHNUTE & FOURNIER METHOD Sample No. N L (cm) K I 363 35.6 0.187 -0.51 II 663 33.2 0.207 -0.33 III 635 - -0.578 -IV 516 18.2 0.442 -0.48 V 566 - -0.068 -The negative K value estimated for data sets III and V indicate the data do not conform well to the von Bertalanffy growth model. These results are believed to be a consequence of p a r t i a l recruitment and p a r t i a l maturation in sample IV (see Table 3.5). Non-representative sampling of the older size class in thi s sample l i k e l y arose from a size-determined migration of juveniles out of the grass beds. When using length-frequency techniques to estimate f i s h growth, the following conditions should be met: 1) modal sizes represent age class cohorts and are not merely random concentrations of l a r v a l recruitment in time; 2) animals hatched in the same year tend to be of the same size range normally d i s t r i b u t e d around a modal s i z e ; 3) sampling i s unbiased and representative; and 4) sample s i z e i s large enough for r e l i a b l e c a l c u l a t i o n of mean length of a l l underlying d i s t r i b u t i o n s . There are several aspects of conch biology which influence si z e class v a r i a b i l i t y , and therefore, make i t d i f f i c u l t to divide polymodal size-frequency samples into t h e i r component d i s t r i b u t i o n s . Among them are prolonged spawning, variable terminal s i z e and d i f f e r e n t rates of growth between sexes. Too 46 few observations have been made to determine the period over which spawning is most intense in Belize. However, elsewhere in the Caribbean, the spawning a c t i v i t y is prolonged. Spawning season in some areas extending from mid-spring to m i d - f a l l (D'Asaro, 1965; Hesse, 1976; Davis et a l . , 1984; Weil and Laughlin, 1984; Coulston et a l . , in press). Variation in terminal size i s well recognized in Strombus  gigas. Adults tagged by Alcolado (1976) in Cuba and by Weil and Laughlin (1984) in Venezuela ranged from 17-23 cm and 18-26 cm, respectively. Lipped individuals c o l l e c t e d in Belize for the analysis of weight-length relations ranged from 16.7 to 26.3 cm (n=75; sd=2.01). Sambas comprised a r e l a t i v e l y large percent (15%) of the sample collected in Boca Chica for morphometric studies. Therefore, th e i r presence in the length-frequency samples and influence on size class v a r i a b i l i t y are to be expected. Different rates of growth in female and male conch may also increase the overlap between siz e classes. Observations that females are s l i g h t l y larger than males is documented by Randall (1964b), Percharde (1968), Alcolado (1976) and Appeldoorn (in press (a)), and by Blakesley (1977) in Belize. In the sample used for morphometric studies, mean s h e l l length of juvenile females was 19.2 cm (n=65; sd=2.5) as compared to 18.1 cm (n=52; sd=2.3) for males. Average length of adult females was 22.7 cm (n=38;sd=2.0) and males 21 .6 cm (n=37; sd=1.9). The p o s s i b i l i t y of t h i s form of sexual dimorphism leading to a m i s i d e n t i f i c a t i o n 47 of modes depends on the degree of overlap. With differences of 1 cm noted for Belize animals, i t is not l i k e l y to be a problem. Two other aspects of queen conch biology which cause d i f f i c u l t i e s when using size-frequency techniques are p a r t i a l recruitment and determinant s h e l l growth (Appeldoorn, in press (a)). These have an influence on whether a l l age groups w i l l be sampled in proportion to true abundance. Sub-yearling conch (juveniles < 6-7 cm) bury beneath the substrate and are seldom seen by divers. As individuals grow, the year-class gradually emerges from the sand to be incorporated into the sampled population, but in the interim slow growing animals may be s e l e c t i v e l y undersampled. If so, mean length of the f i r s t year-class w i l l be overestimated and abundance underestimated. A process which is e s s e n t i a l l y the reverse of p a r t i a l recruitment, i . e . , p a r t i a l maturation, occurs when juveniles reach maturity and cease to grow in length. Large conch (fast growers) w i l l be s e l e c t i v e l y removed from the sample as they become adults. The observed mean size of remaining individuals w i l l be less than the real s i z e and population growth rate represented by length-frequency analysis w i l l be underestimated. Further explanation of how the t r a n s i t i o n of conch from juveniles to adults affects the location of the mode on the length-frequency histogram and i t s s i z e i s given by Appeldoorn (in press (a)). 48 3.3.2 Tag-recapture studies Tagging data from Belize were analyzed with Fabens' (1965) method. Estimates of L. derived from these data were within the OO range of previously documented values (Table 3.4). Estimates of K seem to be on the upper and lower ends of the spectrum. Those for the three juvenile populations ranged from 0.223 to 0.290 and data on returns from fishermen and animals tagged by the Fisheries Department in 1976 generated much larger values of K, i. e . , 0.479 and 0.674. These results are believed to be a r t i f a c t s of biased data; the f i r s t three populations biased toward small juveniles and the l a t t e r two data sets biased toward adults. Representative sampling is a common problem in tagging studies as conch are gregarious and often found in cohorts of sim i l a r sized animals. Growth parameters derived from tagging data were di f f e r e n t from those obtained v i a length-frequency analysis (LFA) for the Tres Cocos population: PARAMETERS ESTIMATED FOR THE TRES COCOS POPULATION L^ (cm) K t 0 Age (yr) at Tres Cocos - LFA Maturity (input=sample I) 35.6 0.187 -0.51 5.13 (input=sample II) 33.2 0.207 -0.33 4.96 Tres Cocos - Tagging 24.2 0.286 0.03 7.45 Slower growth was predicted by the tagging data due to a lack of large (fast growing) juveniles in the samples. As explained at the beginning of thi s section, the von 49 Bertalanffy parameters used in the y i e l d - p e r - r e c r u i t analysis were selected from published values due to a lack of suitable data for Belize populations. Parameters most commonly c i t e d in the l i t e r a t u r e were chosen, i . e . , those derived from Randall's (1964b) tagging data for the U.S. V i r g i n Islands (see Table 3.4). 3.4 Mortality in Conch Populations Natural (M) and f i s h i n g (F) mortality rates may be estimated independently (Ricker, 1975; Pauly, 1984) or derived from the t o t a l mortality rate (Z=M+F). In t h i s study, the l a t t e r approach had to be taken as there was i n s u f f i c i e n t data to do otherwise. F was derived from published estimates of M and a value of Z derived from a catch curve analysis. 3.4.1 Published values of natural mortality Published natural mortality for Strombus gigas ranges from 0.08 to 8.62 (Table 3.6). The large v a r i a t i o n stems from the fact that the mean age of populations studied and techniques of analysis used were d i f f e r e n t between researchers. The rate of M in conch decreases over a large portion of i t s l i f e span (Appeldoorn, in press (b)). In l i g h t of t h i s , only estimates of M corresponding to ages found in the Belize f i s h e r y are considered in t h i s study. The objective being to meet the assumption of constant M over the fishable l i f e s p a n . The studies providing information on mortality corresponding to a fishable 50 Table 3.6 Values of p u b l i s h e d instantaneous n a t u r a l m o r t a l i t y r a t e (M) for Strombus gigas. Corresponding average age (yr) c a l c u l a t e d using Berg's (1976) von B e r t a l a n f f y growth parameters. Methods used to determine m o r t a l i t y were length-frequency a n a l y s i s (LF) and tagging (T) (modified a f t e r Appeldoorn ( i n p r e s s ( b ) ) ; Table 1) SOURCE LOCATION M AGE METHOD Randall, 1964a Lameshur Bay, S-t. Johns, US. V i r g i n I s l a n d s 3 .52 1 .17 T 3 .40 1 .39 T 1 .92 1 .66 T 2 .55 1 .91 T A l c o l a d o , 1976 S. Cuba, Diego Perez A 1 .40 2 .40 LF 1 .06 2 .56 LF S. Cuba, Diego Perez B 1 .39 2 .40 LF S. Cuba, Cayo A n c l i t a s 1 .90 2 .50 LF N. Cuba, Playa Cubanacan 1 .39 2 .50 LF S. Cuba, Cabo Cruz C 1 .77 2 .72 T B a i s r e & Paez, 1981 Cuba 4 .00 1 .00 T Iversen, 1983 L i t t l e Whale Cay, Berry I s l a n d s , Bahamas 2 .90 1 .50 T Wood SL Olsen, 1983 Western St. Thomas, USVI 0 .19 1 .75 LF 0 .04 2 .75 LF Laughlin & Weil, 1983 Venezuela 0 .08 1 .75 T Olsen, 1985 Turks & Caicos Islands 0 .08 1 .50 LF Appeldoorn, 1985 Media Luna, La Parguera, Puerto Rico 8 .62 0 .40 T Appeldoorn, Media Luna, La Parguera, 1 .05 3 .30 T i n p r e s s ( c ) Puerto Rico 0 .52 4 .25* LF Munoz et a l . , i n press Venezuela 0 .10 1 .75 T * A d u l t s only 51 age (age> two years) include: the tagging experiments by Appeldoorn (in press (c)) and Alcolado (1976), and length-frequency analysis by Alcolado (1976) and Wood and Olsen (1983). Values of M provided by Wood and Olsen (1983) are equal to Z obtained for prerecruits (ages 1 to 2). The average mor t a l i t i e s for the f i r s t two year-classes in the populations they studied (M=0.12 and M=0.08) were the lowest documented for conch. Alcolado (1976) claims there was no intense f i s h i n g in the populations for which he calculated mortality but his estimations of M were much higher for the same age classes (eg., 1.06 to 1.90). Appeldoorn (in press (c)) provided values of Z estimated during times of no f i s h i n g (Z=M=1.05) and when f i s h i n g was known to occur (Z=2.19). To discern which of the above estimates would be best for modelling, the techniques used were evaluated and the l i k e l i h o o d of some assumptions being v i o l a t e d considered. It was concluded that no one value is more r e l i a b l e and that the best approach for modelling would be to select two d i f f e r e n t values within the range published (M=0.1 and 0.5) and compare the r e s u l t s . A discussion on the d i f f i c u l t i e s of assessing M for S. gigas i s presented below. When estimating mortality from tag returns, i t is important that sampling be unbiased, tag loss minimal, migration accounted for and that tagging in no way affects behavior in terms of growth, mortality or sampling (Seber, 1982). There are several factors that tend to reduce the number of tagged conch one is able to recover (Iversen, 1983). Conch may migrate from the 52 search area or bury and be overlooked. The tags may be shed or not spotted due to algae and encrusting organisms on the s h e l l s . Lastly, larger tagged conch may be removed by fishermen and tags not returned. Alcolado (1976) made l i t t l e mention of his tagging experiment, though he conceded that his estimate of M (1.77) may be biased high because of possible incomplete recovery. Appeldoorn (in press (c)) claims there are no substantial departures from the assumptions of equal c a t c h a b i l i t y and surv i v a l in his study. He noted c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of conch biology which may affect c a t c h a b i l i t y and should be considered when deciding on a random sampling design. These included the aggregated d i s t r i b u t i o n of conch and p o s s i b i l i t y that clusters may be characterized by d i s t i n c t s i z e groups. Habitat preferences of juveniles and the p o s s i b i l i t y that areas may be d i f f e r e n t i a l l y characterized by the abundance of juveniles and adults are also noted. By working with conch of fishable s i z e , his concern over juveniles burying, mortality decreasing with age and fishermen selecting certain sizes of conch was minimal. To correct for emigration, he estimated the instantaneous rate of annual emigration (E) and subtracted t h i s figure (E=0.48) from his o r i g i n a l estimate of M (1.53). To estimate t o t a l mortality from the decline in r e l a t i v e abundance of successive si z e classes of f i s h , one assumes that: 1) age can be estimated from length; 2) s i z e classes are sampled in proportion to true abundance; 53 3) Z is the same in a l l age groups in question; and 4) age groups were equal in number at the time each was being recruited. These assumptions however, may not be v a l i d for Strombus gigas. It is d i f f i c u l t to determine age classes from a polymodal length-frequency because growth in s h e l l length ceases when conch reach sexual maturity. The tendency of sub-yearling conch to bury w i l l lead to an underestimation of abundance in e a r l i e r year classes and hence an underestimation of M (Appeldoorn, in press (a)). The decrease in M with age and temporal v a r i a b i l i t y in recruitment of conch (Appeldoorn, in press (a); Alcolado, 1976) further complicates length-frequency analysis. Alcolado's (1976) estimates of mortality for conch are based on f u l l y recruited age classes, i . e . , the l a s t two annual classes. In Wood and Olsen's (1983) report, age classes were determined by probit analysis and age-class abundance was estimated aft e r the method of Olsen and Koblich (1975). Appeldoorn (in press (b)) questioned Wood and Olsen's (1983) results claiming their calculations on the number of individuals within each mode are not a good match for th e i r o r i g i n a l length-frequency histogram. His r e c a l c u l a t i o n of t h e i r data using a d i f f e r e n t method of analysis yielded a M of 1.03 at 1.75 years and 0.85 at 2.75 years. He also noted the p o s s i b i l i t y that the youngest year class may have been undersampled due to p a r t i a l recruitment. If so, the f i r s t mortality figure would be increased further s t i l l . 54 3.4.2 Catch curve analysis The instantaneous rate of t o t a l mortality (Z) is commonly defined by the expression: -Zt Nt=N0 * e (4) where N Q = ( i n i t i a l ) population size at time zero, = number of f i s h remaining at the end of time ' t ' and e = mathematical constant 2.718 (Ricker, 1975). This relationship forms the basis for the catch curve analysis. If the age groups were equal in number at the time each was being recruited, Z can be calculated d i r e c t l y from the slope of a plot of log frequency of each age class on age. Techniques for estimating mortality v i a the analysis of catch curves and other methodologies (eg., mark-recapture experiments and cohort analysis) are reviewed by Ricker (1975), Seber (1982), Csirke and Caddy (1983), Jones (1984) and Pauly (1984). Two catch curves were constructed with Belize data: 1) a plot of log frequency against length (Ricker, 1975), and 2) a length converted catch curve (Pauly, 1984). The s i z e composition data used were c o l l e c t e d during the dockside survey in June, 1985 and were considered representative of commercial catches. Sampling of the catch from each boat was random. It was assumed that the s i z e d i s t r i b u t i o n of conch landed d i f f e r s l i t t l e from month to month because fishermen are diving for conch in a var i e t y of areas at any one time. The weights of market cleaned individuals sampled from the fishermen's landings ranged from 28.4 gm (1.0 oz) to 375.6 gm (13.3 oz). This corresponds to a 55 range in s h e l l lengths of 15.6 to 29.2 cm (Figure 3.2). The mode of the catch curve is situated at 23.0 cm which, using Berg's (1976) growth parameters, is equivalent to an age of 4.2 years. The regression describing the right hand limb of the f i r s t curve is given by the equation: loge (frequency) = 22.5 - 0.72 Shell length (cm) (5) The confidence interval of the regression l i n e i s 0.72 + 0.17 (n=13; r=0.94). The right arm of the length converted catch curve yields a l i n e described by the following equation: log (N. — ) = 11.7 - 1.43 logo ( t ' L ) (6) a dt & where N« = frequency in age class i , d l /dt = growth rate of conch in i and t'j. = estimated age of the i t h class. The confidence i n t e r v a l on the regression l i n e i s 1.43 + 0.20 (n=13; r=0.98). If one assumes that conch increase in siz e by a constant absolute amount from year to year over the siz e range in question, the average value of Z for these year classes is estimated to be 0.72. However, i f thi s assumption i s wrong and growth rate is decreasing, t h i s value w i l l be an underestimate of Z. This i s because of a piling-up e f f e c t where older size groups contain more age groups than do younger si z e groups. With Pauly's (1984) method, Z is estimated to be 1.43. This second approach takes the piling-up e f f e c t into account but as i t requires the use of a juvenile von Bertalanffy growth formula to compute adult ages, i t too i s in question. The f i n a l decision on which value of Z and M to use in modelling was made somewhat a r b i t r a r i l y after examining the 56 l o g e f req. (N) 6.5 5.0 3.5 2.0 0.5 " 15 18 Simple catch curve T • • c T 21 27T L E N G T H (cm) •ir 6.5 5.0 l o g e 3.5 (N-dl/dt) 2.0 -0.5 Length converted catch curve 1.5 I 2.5 3.5 4.5 Rel a t i v e age (yr) 5.5 6.5 Figure 3.2 Catch curves constructed from s i z e composition data on landings sampled i n 1985. (A) r e g u l a t i o n s h e l l length, (8) r e g u l a t i o n marketable meat weight, (C) mode at 23 cm. 57 results of several y i e l d - p e r - r e c r u i t analyses, each conducted with a d i f f e r e n t value for M. I selected values Z=0.72 and M=0.10 and hence, predicted F to be around 0.62. Results of a YPR analysis using an M of 0.5 and a discussion on how v a r i a t i o n in M and K influences YPR predictions are presented at the end of t h i s chapter. I recognize the uncertainty l i k e l y to surround the results of a model based on a rough estimation of parameters, but in order to make judgements regarding management, have decided to select one set of parameters and describe potential v a r i a t i o n of YPR thereafter. 3.5 Size and age composition of fishable populations 3.5.1 Average si z e of conch meats landed The sex r a t i o of animals sampled during the dockside survey in 1985 was 1:1. Weights of marketed-meats ranged from 28.3 gm (1.0 oz) to 375.6 gm (13.3 oz). The average equalled 132.3 gm (4.7 oz); t h i s i s equivalent to 7.5 conch per kg or 3.4 per pound. Twenty-three percent of the meats in the sample were less than the minimum allowable meat weight of 85.1 gm (3.0 oz) (Figure 3.2). However, only three percent were less than 49.0 gm (1.7 oz) which corresponds to the minimum l i m i t for s h e l l length (17.8 cm) given a weight-length regression (functional) calculated for a pooled sample of juveniles and adults (n=214; r2" =0.81; confidence i n t e r v a l for the regression l i n e = 4.12 + 0.24): log(meat weight fern] ) = -3.46 + 4.12 l o g ( s h e l l length [cut] ) (7) 58 The discrepancy in the two size l i m i t s , therefore, allows fishermen to v i o l a t e the minimum weight r e s t r i c t i o n . The average weight of a market cleaned conch landed p r i o r to the implementation of the size l i m i t are c i t e d as follows: SOURCE YEAR MEAN SIZE in gm (and ounces) CO-OP Fisheries Department n II Blakesley (1976) Brownell (1978) This study 1973 n 1976 1976 1985 108.0 (3.8) 76.5 (2.7) 66.0 (2.3)* 50.0 to 70.0 (1.8 to 2.5) 131.0 (4.7) Placencia Nat ional ? ? ave. for cooperatives * Estimated weight given the average length of 19.1 cm quoted by Blakesley. It would appear that the size r e s t r i c t i o n s have discouraged the harvest of juveniles; however, the number of undersize animals sold on the l o c a l market i s unknown. The average meat size landed in the Turk and Caicos is higher than that quoted above for B e l i z e . Olsen (1985) measured 4.6 conch per kg (2.1 conch per pound) in the catches he sampled. This is equivalent to an average meat weight of 215 gm (7.6 oz). Among the cooperatives, Placencia landed the largest conch meats. The average meat s i z e landed by a l l other cooperatives were r e l a t i v e l y the same: 59 AVERAGE SIZE OF CONCH MEATS, 1985 Coop./Area Ave. meat weight N in grams (sd) CO-OP: Caribeffa Northern Nat ional Placencia 128.1 126.4 129.4 150.0 (43.1) (53.4) (66.9) (39.5) 43 660 1229 437 AREA: San Pedro 128.1 Caye Caulker 161.0 Belize Ci t y 156.7 Placencia 152.9 Turneffe 171.5 Lighthouse Reef 93.8 Edge of reef 191.6 (43.1) (50.5) (56.2) (36.7) (62.4) (55.8) (56.7) 43 148 268 279 119 539 128 The largest meats measured during this study were delivered by two divers from National. These fishermen dove to depths of about 13 m in the channel of the main reef east of Belize City. Their landings were sampled on three days and the average meat weight of conch weighed was 191.6 gm (6.8 oz). Each conch captured was an adult with a thickened s h e l l l i p . Conversations with fishermen and examination of past landings receipts indicate that the intensity of f i s h i n g has been greatest in the Lighthouse Reef area (an outer a t o l l ) and least along the outer edge of the main b a r r i e r reef. This probably explains the va r i a t i o n in average s i z e of conch between these two areas; however, fishermen also believe that morphometric differences between the populations may also be a factor. They claim that lipped conch within the lagoons of Lighthouse Reef have always been smaller than those along the main reef. There are not enough data to say which areas within the inner reef are most heavily fished. 60 3.5.2 Mean age at recruitment Mean age at recruitment ( t r ) is defined as the time when conch are recruited to the exploited area, and are v i s i b l e to the fishermen. The average age at which juveniles f i r s t emerge from the sand and appear in s i g n i f i c a n t numbers is thought to approximate one year. This value of t p i s based on surveys conducted at Tres Cocos and assumption that the pulse of juveniles observed there in July, 1982 and June, 1983 are recr u i t s of the previous year's spawning. 3.5.3 Mean age at f i r s t capture Mean age at f i r s t capture is commonly regarded as the average minimum siz e at which the f i s h are capable of being retained by the f i s h i n g gear. Since conch are coll e c t e d by hand, i t is more appropriate to say that t^ is the mean minimum size selected by the fishermen. Landings composition data obtained from cooperatives for t h i s study indicate a mean age of f i r s t capture of 2.2 years. This is the age corresponding to the minimum leg a l s h e l l s i z e of 17.8 cm. Having observed f i s h i n g operations at sea and the sale of sublegal sized animals on l o c a l markets, I suspect that a s i g n i f i c a n t number of conch averaging 15 cm are caught. This means that the average age of capture may be as low as 1.7 years. However, since I have no data on conch landed outside the cooperatives, I have choosen a tj, of 2.2 years with which to model. 61 3.5.4 Longevity Longevity of Strombus qiqas has been estimated in a number of d i f f e r e n t ways. Berg (1976) calculated longevity using the von Bertalanffy formula whereby tmax is equated with the time required to reach 95% of the maximum length (Taylor, 1962). With thi s method, various estimates can be obtained for longevity depending on the K value used; Berg's (1976) estimate was 6.0 years using Randall's (1964b) data (K = 0.516). Another way of calcula t i n g longevity i s to sum the time estimated for each stage of the l i f e - c y c l e . Berg (1976) obtains a value of 5.7 years using t h i s method. Hesse (1976) claimed lip-thickness could be equated with age. Based on a l i p thickening rate of 1.25 mm/month (n=26), she estimated longevity to be 5.5 years. Coulston et a l . (in press) observed a constant weight gain in adults and estimated mean longevity to be 12 years with a range of 8.4 to 26.0 years. Based on oxygen isotope studies of the conch s h e l l , Wefer and K i l l i n g l e y (1980) estimated a longevity of 7.0 years for animals in Bermuda. The average of the above values (7.0 yr.) was used for modelling in t h i s study. 3.6 Yield-Per-Recruit Analysis Results of the Beverton-Holt y i e l d - p e r - r e c r u i t computations for Strombus qiqas, are given in Figure 3.3. The eumetric f i s h i n g curve, the eumetric y i e l d curve and po s i t i o n of the Belize conch fishery in 1985 are also indicated on the y i e l d 62 7 • I I l l 1 • ' • I • I I . I • • I • I 0T4 0.8 1.2 T76 2.0 2 . 4 ^ 7 5 — k ~ 5 T 5 — b _ T . 6 Instantaneous rate of f i s h i n g (F) Figure 3.3 Y i e l d contour diagram for Strombus gigas. (Yields shown are i n grams per conch, computed by the Beverton-Holt method using t r=1.0 yr, M=0.1, K=0.516, WOO(marketable meat)=191 gm, t o=0.0 yr and t m a x=7.0 y r . Point A represents rate of f i s h i n g and mean age of f i r s t capture i n 1985.) 63 isopleth diagram. Assuming M=0.1, there is a sharp increase in y i e l d at low f i s h i n g pressure. Thereafter, increases in y i e l d are more gradual. Once F=0.8, the addition of fis h i n g pressure for a given harvest size ( t c ) has l i t t l e e f fect on the y i e l d function. Beyond the age of 3.0 years the gain in y i e l d is minimal with increase in harvest si z e and below three years, y i e l d is decreased s i g n i f i c a n t l y . The change in y i e l d / r e c r u i t with age at f i r s t capture for the rate of f i s h i n g observed in Belize in 1985 (F=0.6) i s as follows: YIELD/RECRUIT @ F=0.6 t c YPR (gm) 1.0 52 1.5 64 2.0 73 2.5 80 3.0 84 3.5 85 4.0 83 4.5 78 5.0 70 Yield - p e r - r e c r u i t i s expressed as a function of fishing mortality in Figure 3.4 and as a function of age at f i r s t capture in Figure 3.5. The maximum yi e l d - p e r - r e c r u i t and corresponding f i s h i n g mortality (F) for a given mean age of entry ( t c ) and the tangents of the eumetric f i s h i n g curve are given below: Fishing Mortality Rate (F) Figure 3.4 Y i e l d - p e r - r e c r u i t as a function of f i s h i n g m o r t a l i t y ; (f) maxima 66 TANGENTS OF THE EUMETRIC YIELD CURVE (yr) Shell Length (cm) YPRrnax (gm) F 1.0 10.4 56 0.4 1.5 14.0 65 0.5 2.0 16.7 73 0.6 2.5 18.8 81 0.8 3.0 20.4 88 1.0 3.5 21.7 94 1.3 4.0 22.7 98 1.7 4.5 23.4 100 2.5 5.0 24.0 101 3.5 TANGENTS OF THE EUMETRIC FISHING CURVE Fishing Y P Rimax Shell 1 Mortality (gm) (yr) (cm) 0.1 35 1.5 14.0 0.2 54 2.0 16.7 0.3 67 2.5 18.8 0.4 75 3.0 20.4 0.5 80 3.0 20.4 0.6 85 3.5 21.7 0.7 88 3.5 21.7 0.8 90 3.5 21.7 0.9 92 4.0 22.7 1.0 94 4.0 22.7 The p o s i t i o n of the conch fishery of Belize in 1985 i s estimated to be at F=0.6 and te=2.2 years. To obtain a maximum y i e l d using the observed t c , t h i s rate of f i s h i n g i s appropriate. However, the best t t for F=0.6 i s 3.5 years. At the e a r l i e r t c of 2.2 years, 88% of the maximum y i e l d possible for F=0.6 is r e a l i z e d . There i s question as to how much confidence one can place in a y i e l d computation based upon eight parameter values which were estimated from a limited amount of f i e l d data and accumulated knowledge on the species. The shape of the response surface generated by the model could be affected in any number of ways by errors in parameter estimation (Tester, 1952; 67 Gulland, 1983). The d i f f i c u l t i e s of estimating v i t a l s t a t i s t i c s of exploited t r o p i c a l species by conventional techniques are well documented (Stevenson and S a i l a , 1977; Munro, J.979; Pauly, 1984). For Strombus qiqas , inprecision of estimates of parameters K and M are most l i k e l y given the problems in describing growth and assessing M. Hence, both parameters were fluctuated to assess the pot e n t i a l variance in y i e l d predictions. When yi e l d - p e r - r e c r u i t i s calculated with the co e f f i c i e n t of growth (K) varying between 0.4 and 0.6, the maximum YPR (tc=2.2) increases from 56.9 gm at K=0.4 to 89.1 gm at K=0.6 (Figure 3.6). If K increases r e l a t i v e to M, the cohort w i l l maximize i t s biomass in a shorter time period. If M has been underestimated, a revision of the YPR analysis would suggest harvesting a smaller s i z e at a greater rate (Figure 3.7). With an M of 0.5, YPR would be maximized at a F of 0.6 when tc = 2.0 years as opposed to 3.5 years as predicted with M = 0.1. Al t e r n a t i v e l y , i f tc=2.2 years, the f i s h i n g mortality rate at which YPR i s maximized at about 2.0 and not 0.6 as predicted for M=0.1. The absolute value of the y i e l d would also decrease with a higher M: Y I E L D - P E R - R E C R U I T A N A L Y S I S WITH M=0.5 Tangents of the Eumetric Y i e l d Curve: tc (yr) Shell Length (cm) YPRmax (gm) F 1 . 0 1 . 5 2 . 0 2 . 5 3 . 0 3 . 5 4 . 0 10.4 14.0 16.7 18.8 20.4 21.7 22.7 2 5 . 5 2 9 . 8 3 0 . 0 3 4 . 5 3 3 . 6 3 0 . 9 2 7 . 2 0 . 7 1 . 0 2 . 0 4 . 8 5 . 8 6 . 5 6 . 8 100 Figure 3.7 Change i n Y i e l d - p e r - r e c r u i t with v a r i a t i o n i n nat u r a l mortality (M) Mean age at f i r s t capture = 2.2 yr; ( f ) maxima 70 Tangents of the Eumetric Fishing Curve: F Y P R m a x t c Shell (gm) (yr) Length (cm) 0.2 17.5 1.0 10.4 0.4 24.8 1.5 14.0 0.6 28.2 2.0 16.7 0.8 30.3 2.0 16.7 1.0 31.5 2.0 16.7 1.5 32.7 2.0 16.7 2.0 33.5 2.5 18.8 2.5 34.0 2.5 18.8 3.0 34.2 2.5 18.8 With a M/K value of 0.194 (0.1/0.516), the gain in biomass from growth is greater than the loss from mortality. The lower value of M would, therefore, predict that the stock would contain many r e l a t i v e l y large conch in the absence of f i s h i n g . In terms of getting the best y i e l d from a r e c r u i t l e v e l , i t would pay to f i s h r e l a t i v e l y l i g h t l y with a high s i z e at f i r s t capture. The results of a YPR analysis with M=0.5 would on the other hand suggest f i s h i n g a small s i z e at a high rate. The low values of YPR based on the higher value of M seem u n r e a l i s t i c . This suggests that either the parameters are poor estimates of true values or some assumptions of the model are v i o l a t e d . In sum, t h i s model may be viewed as a q u a l i t a t i v e description of what i s happening. It can not be used to make quantitative predictions, for example, of the e f f e c t on the catch of changing the amount of f i s h i n g by 10%. However, i t does provide a conceptual framework on which refinements can be made and the c o l l e c t i o n of relevant information, planned. The results and implications for management are discussed more f u l l y at the end of Chapter Six. 71 CHAPTER FOUR The Harvest Sector 4.1 Development of the Small-Scale Fisheries of Belize The f i s h i n g industry of Belize was centered largely around a trap fishery for lobster u n t i l the 1960's (Thompson, 1945; I d y l l , 1962; Vega, 1977). Thereafter, i t boomed with the formation of f i s h i n g cooperatives, development of markets in the United States and advances in diving technology ( i . e . , introduction of mask and f i n s ) . Both the number of species exported and the area fished increased. By the mid-1960's, cooperatives were exporting lobster, conch, shrimp and f i l l e t e d scale f i s h , and to a lesser extent, t u r t l e ( s h e l l and meat). Skindiving became popular and the area of f i s h i n g was no longer contained to the northern lagoon where conditions for lobster trapping were best ( I d y l l , 1962). Fishermen began to f i s h in deeper waters and along the margins of patch reefs and cayes in the southern lagoon, the b a r r i e r reef and outer a t o l l s . Shortly after t h i s sudden expansion in the industry, the Government of Belize established a lobster management system (Allsopp, 1968). Harvest r e s t r i c t i o n s implemented through t h i s system included a s i z e l i m i t , closed season and quota. These were observed by the cooperatives and hence, set precedence for f i s h e r i e s management in Belize. Another important event influencing the course of f i s h e r i e s development was the 72 introduction of a government p o l i c y in 1965 which allowed the fi s h i n g cooperatives only to export lobster and conch. Since the 1970's, e f f o r t s have been made to d i v e r s i f y f i s h e r i e s to increase employment opportunities and lessen the intensity of f i s h i n g on lobster and conch. Progress was f i r s t made in the scale f i s h industry with the establishment of an export market for whole f i s h in 1974. Six shrimp trawlers were also acquired in the early 1970's, but shrimp exports remained low and over the years eventually dropped to zero because of no fi s h i n g (Government of Belize, 1983a). This industry was re-established in 1985 through j o i n t ventures with foreign shrimping companies and is now the second most important in terms of economic value (BFCA, 1985a). There has been much interest in a deep sea f i n f i s h industry but l i t t l e progress made in i t s development (BFCA, 1983a; CARE, 1983; The Reporter, 1985). At present cooperatives are trying to establish markets for a var i e t y of products including stone crab claws, clams and shark. In 1985, they were successful in finding a market for fresh f i s h , and f i l l e t production has subsequently increased. The p o t e n t i a l of other f i s h e r i e s (eg., sponges, mangrove oysters, mussels, seaweed and aquarium fish) are being investigated by the Fisheries Department and private entrepreneurs. Plans to farm freshwater products (eg., prawns, T i l a p i a and catfish) are also m a t e r i a l i z i n g . The government advocates development in aquaculture and the interest of 73 investors is apparently high. Latest accounts of the status of f i s h e r i e s in Belize include those by Gibson (1978), Government of Belize (1982a), Perkins (1983) and Shusterich (1984). The accomplishments Belize has made in small-scale f i s h e r i e s development through the e f f o r t s of the government, the dedication of fishermen and establishment of fishermen-owned cooperatives are well recognized (Eberle, 1977; Brownell, 1978; Gibson, 1978; FAO, 1979). The sale of luxury items d i r e c t l y to wholesale firms in the United States and the a v a i l a b i l i t y of financing through the cooperatives have transformed what was once a subsistence f i s h i n g economy into a modern commercial one. Belizean fishermen s t i l l concentrate on inshore f i s h e r i e s and use small vessel sizes (3 to 10 m) and simple gear types (skindiving, handmade traps, handlines). However, they also own outboard motors, keep t h e i r catch on ice while at sea, and receive prices on par with American fishermen for t h e i r exported commodities. The f i s h i n g cooperative system, operations within each cooperative and gross earnings of cooperative members are described in the section to follow. 4 . 2 Fishing Cooperatives Twelve f i s h i n g cooperatives have been registered in Belize; Northern was the f i r s t cooperative to be formed in 1959 followed by Placencia, Caribena, National and f i n a l l y , Sarteneja. With the exception of Placencia, these cooperatives are located in northern Belize (Figure 1.1). The Sarteneja cooperative was 74 registered in 1969, started exporting conch in 1971, and was closed in 1982 due to f i n a n c i a l d i f f i c u l t i e s . The remaining registered cooperatives are in the south of Belize. Two are no longer active: Toledo Fishermen Cooperative in Punta Gorda and Freshwater Fishermen Society Ltd. in Rancho Dolores. The three cooperatives in operation the longest include: Southern Foreshore Cooperative in Punta Gorda (registered in 1971), Central Fishermen Cooperative in Dangriga (registered in 1973) and the Barranco Fishermen Cooperative also in the Toledo D i s t r i c t (registered in 1983). These cooperatives have no freezing f a c i l i t i e s and t h e i r products, mainly scale f i s h , are sold exclusively on the l o c a l market (Government of Belize, 1982a). Their membership in 1984 was 40, 30 and 19, respectively. The most recently established cooperatives are located in the v i l l a g e s of Hopkins and Independence in the Stann Creek D i s t r i c t . The major objective of the f i s h i n g cooperatives in Belize i s "to promote the economic and c u l t u r a l welfare of i t s members by u t i l i z i n g t h e i r united funds and united e f f o r t s for the more e f f i c i e n t production, d i s t r i b u t i o n , processing and sale of the products of t h e i r s k i l l and labours" (National, 1958). The f a c i l i t i e s , and processing and marketing systems of the exporting cooperatives are reviewed by Tengberg-Hansen (1968), Synder (1976) and Seeman (1977). Each cooperative has r e f r i g e r a t i o n f a c i l i t i e s (ice making machine, cold storage space and blast freezers), unloading docks, a processing plant, 75 o f f i c e , marine fueling station and store (for gear s a l e s ) . Most products, eg., lobster t a i l s , market cleaned conch, shrimp t a i l s , whole f i s h and f i s h f i l l e t s are frozen. The cooperatives are well organized. Each one has an elected governing body (management committee) drawn from the member fishermen and an Executive Secretary. The l a t t e r is responsible for recording the whole of the f i n a n c i a l transactions of the registered society (Vasquez, 1982). S p e c i f i c duties of the management committee are outlined in each cooperative's By-laws. In b r i e f , they plan and control the use of the cooperative's resources including the funds, materials and machinery. Entrance requirements to j o i n a cooperative are generally the same for each cooperative. Prospective members must be at least 18 years old, and a bona fide national or legal resident of B e l i z e . If they have previously been a member of another cooperative, they must have resigned in good standing. Upon entering the cooperative, members are required to purchase shares in the cooperative and pledge to buy more over a given period of time. The number of shares varies with cooperative. Once accepted, the member is placed on probation and must meet certain production requirements. Members should also reside and f i s h within the cooperative's area of operation which is s p e c i f i e d when a cooperative i s formed. However, t h i s law i s disregarded generally. Fishermen work in areas a l l along the reef, and on occasion, are found to be members of a cooperative 76 other than the one in the i r home town. Cooperatives strongly encourage their members to remain l o y a l , e specially in small cooperatives for which production i s low and overhead high. The cooperatives purchase and then process the products from th e i r members. At the end of a f i n a n c i a l year, after operating expenses have been deducted, the members are given a second payment which i s based on each fisherman's proportion of t o t a l catch. Each cooperative secures i t s own export markets and negotiates i t s own pri c e s . The f i r s t payment is based on the going price as stated in the Fishery Market News Reports of the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service. The average foreign market prices received by the cooperatives in Belize over the years are given in Table 4.1. The same f i r s t payment is given by a l l cooperatives to discourage members from s e l l i n g to cooperatives other than t h e i r own. For the f i s c a l year of 1985, f i r s t payment for lobster was $13.23 BZ/kg ($6.00 BZ/lb) and for conch, $4.96 BZ/kg ($2.25 BZ/lb). Price per kg for scale f i s h varies for the class of f i s h (Appendix IV). In May 1985, whole f i s h ranged from $1.46 BZ/kg ($0.66 BZ/lb) for Class C species to $2.76 BZ/kg ($1.25 BZ/lb) for Class A species; f i s h f i l l e t ranged from $2.20 BZ/kg ($1.00 BZ/lb) to $3.86 BZ/kg ($1.75 BZ/lb). Prices have increased in recent years with the f i r s t payment for lobster and conch set at $15.56 BZ/kg ($7.00 BZ/lb) and $6.67 BZ/kg ($3.00 BZ/lb), respectively in the f i s c a l year of 1987. Second payment varies among cooperatives as i t - i s based on 77 Table 4.1 Exports of major f i s h commodities and average price received on the foreign market Weight Exported (kg) Price/kg* CAL. YEAR CONCH LOBSTER FISH SHRIMP CONCH LOBSTER FISH SHRIMP 1956 - 7393F 72375 40654 0 0. 26 1. 72 0. 42 1957 12755F 107371 50077 0 0. 37 1. 57 0. 37 1958 5478F 166257 50161 0 0. 29 1. 34 0. 37 1959 4346F 181913 51613 0 0. 29 1. 32 0. 44 1960 1725F 164983 58212 0 0. 33 1. 68 0. 42 1961 47533F 120802 62715 0 0. 75 1. 37 0. 55 1962 25812F 131366 79253 0 0. 53 1. 48 0. 57 1963 39150F 156655 108417 0 0. 53 1. 76 0. 49 1964 54840F 182800 43772 0 0. 49 2. 62 0. 60 1965 35789F 195728 72712 0 0. 46 3. 33 0. 60 1966 61644F 175951 94757 10478 0. 57 3. 22 0. 55 1. 90 1967 174545F 143777 138577 103420 0. 49 2. 82 0. 55 2. 12 1968 217773 180472 181440 63821 0. 68 3. 75 0. 55 2. 23 1969 359666 188952 108638 48517 0. 88 7. 72 0. 95 2. 27 1970 364819 183755 111816 1896 0. 99 7. 72 0. 99 3. 31 1971 477169 210869 95315 17431 1. 30 9. 33 1. 37 3. 31 1972 562634 227928 52018 11227 1. 34 11. 27 1. 32 3. 97 1973 506653 156904 47922 6495 1. 43 11. 86 1. 26 4. 48 1974 443008 214256 61433 6994 1. 43 13. 23 1. 23 3. 97 1975 406711 219655 95569 12803 3. 09 17. 39 2. 43 7. 72 1976 359750 210796 190261 28644 3. 97 18. 74 2. 07 8. 82 1977 245306 167532 208846 32931 3. 97 18. 74 2. 27 8. 82 1978 208996 172141 191577 29325 4. 41 22. 05 2. 56 8. 82 1979 183209 201069 128985 20797 7. 16 29. 76 2. 84 13. 23 1980 140071 176876 161675 15785 7. 72 30. 86 3. 59 17. 09 1981 113853 305817 205765 10296 9. 94 36. 38 3. 44 17. 09 1982 154836 276745 219543 3424 8. 62 36. 38 3. 53 22. 05 1983 181249 286457 294649 3220 9. 37 38. 58 3. 68 25. 35 1984 239368 264031 137894 0 10. 71 38. 36 4. 30 1985 167968 315143 89318 45713 12. 13 36. 60 4. 39 15. 43 1986 105462 221992 171928 107027 13. 62 42. 22 6. 55 22. 05 *Price/kg = t o t a l value of exports ($BZ) to t a l weight exported F Conch f i l l e t s (vs market-cleaned meats) SOURCE: Belize Fisheries Department 78 the p r o f i t a b i l i t y of each and d i s t r i b u t i o n of overhead among the products handled. The f i n a l value is decided upon by the individual management committees. The larger cooperatives can usually afford to give th e i r members a higher second payment: SECOND PAYMENT MADE TO FISHERMEN ($BZ/kg) Cooperative 1984/85 1985/86 1986/87 Lobs. Con. Lobs. Con. Lobs. Con. Northern $19.29 $0.95 $15.87 $0.84 $21.50 $2.31 National $16.53 $1.65 - - $21.50 $2.76 Caribena $6.61 $1.43 $8.82 $1.32 $9.37 $1.32 Placencia $2.20 $0.33 - - -Among the p r i n c i p a l f i s h products exported, lobster has by far been the greatest money earner. During the 1970's, lobster accounted for roughly 70% of the t o t a l value of f i s h exports while conch accounted for 20%, scale f i s h 5% and shrimp 2.5%. The d i s t r i b u t i o n of t o t a l value of a cooperative's production of lobster, conch and scale f i s h by species group for 1984 was as follows: PERCENT OF TOTAL SALES OF THE THREE MAJOR FISH COMMODITIES BY SPECIES FOR 1984 Lobster Conch Fish National 68 28 4 Northern 87 8 5 Caribena 75 16 9 Placencia 48 27 25 An increase in price for conch on the export market has kept the value of exports high despite the decrease in terms of weight. The rate of increase in price received for conch exports has been greatest among the commodities. From 1982 to 1986 alone, 79 export prices increased by nearly 60% ( i . e . , from $8.62 BZ/kg to $13.62 BZ/kg). In comparison, the price of lobster increased by 16% from $36.38 BZ/kg in 1982 to $42.22 BZ/kg in 1986. Fish increased in price s i g n i f i c a n t l y over this period but the absolute amount s t i l l remains low (eg., $6.55 BZ/kg in 1986). To ensure that some of the production of the highly priced export items are kept for domestic consumption, the Belizean Government requires that the cooperatives s e l l 5% (by weight) of the i r lobster, 10% (by weight) of t h e i r conch and a prescribed poundage of scale f i s h on the l o c a l market at controlled p r i c e s . In 1985, the c e i l i n g prices for conch and lobster were $3.31 BZ/kg ($1.50 BZ/lb) and $6.61 BZ/kg ($3.00 BZ/lb), respectively. This is far lower than what cooperatives pay fishermen for lobster and conch. As a r e s u l t , cooperatives are reluctant to s e l l top grade product on the l o c a l market. In 1984, 6.2% of lobster and 4.4% of conch processed by cooperatives remained in Belize: PERCENT OF COOPERATIVE PRODUCTION SOLD LOCALLY YEAR Lobster Conch Fish Shrimp 1980 5.9 12.6 44.8 38.0 1981 3.6 7.5 43.4 45.2 1982 3.5 4.9 36.0 38.4 1983 4.5 6.7 28.2 31.8 1984 6.2 4.4 45.4 100.0 Prior to a resurgence of shrimp production in 1985, landings of t h i s commodity was too poor to maintain exports. Nearly half of the scale f i s h produced in Belize i s sold l o c a l l y ; the rest is exported to markets in the U.S.A., Jamaica, Honduras and Guatemala. 80 Studies on the economics of f i s h i n g in Belize are limited. CARE (Cooperative for American Relief Everywhere Inc., 1982) has conducted a study on the f i n a n c i a l status of the fi s h i n g cooperatives which pinpoints the central issues in cooperative management. McElroy (1965) presented a p r o f i t analysis of lobster trap fishermen and Baird (1973) made an assessment of a proposed snapper fishery. There is no documentation of the costs entailed f i s h i n g conch. Such research was beyond the scope of th i s study. However, i t was possible to determine the average gross income of fishermen from cooperative records of the annual production of each member and an estimate of the price paid to fishermen (Table 4.2). The average gross earnings made by each member of National are given below. The variance around each figure is high because many members f i s h on a part-time basis and others record the catch of independent fishermen under th e i r name. Earnings from conch alone were separated from those generated through the sale of a l l three major commodities: * AVERAGE GROSS INCOME OF FISHERMEN F i s c a l Average for Average earnings from Year membership (N) the sale of conch (N) 1979 $10,408 (156) $3,135 (102) 1980 $11,250 (141) $2,569 ( 90) 1981 $19,117 (181) $2,841 (120) 1982 $14,512 (226) $2,690 (155) 1983 $15,190 (281) $2,865 (214) 1984 $12,966 (302) $3,637 (241) * Values given in $BZ and number of fishermen represented indicated in brackets. The average annual income of paid employees in Belize is estimated to be $6,000 BZ (Bolland, 1986). The self-employed Table 4.2 Prices/kg received by fishermen for major f i s h commodities FISCAL YEAR CONCH LOBSTER FILLET WHOLE 1967 0.40 3.92 0.68 -1968 0.53 + 4.48 + 1.21 + -1969 0.64 5.00 1.26 -1970 0.88* 7.21* 1.06 -1971 1.15 9.61 1.23 -1972 1.32 9.52 1.76 -1973 1.65+ 11.84+ 1.74 + -1974 1.98 14.18 1.72 1.32 1975 3.00 17.15 2.87 1.32 1976 3.26 19.84 3.48 1.41 1977 3.68 17.70 3.88 1.28 1978 3.70 20.94 4.10 1.28 1979 3.81 22.20 4.45 1.59 1980 5.49 23.15 5.40 1.83 1981 6.55 30.31 5.49 2.29 1982 6.77 28.11 5.34 2.49 1983 6.39 30.31 5.49 2.58 1984 6.75 27.54 5.93 2.56 Price/kg = cost of sales ($BZ)/ t o t a l production Cost of sales = i n i t i a l purchases + second payment Production = exports and weight sold l o c a l l y Source: P r o f i t and Loss Statement, National Cooperative Financial Reports * only exports known; value overestimated + data not available; value = extrapolation 82 fisherman earns twice as much, but these gross earnings do not account for the investment in boats, and cost of f u e l , ice and repairs. 4.3 The Conch Fishery The conch fishery in Belize has two components: the day fishery and the t r i p fishery. To standardize units of the fi s h i n g e f f o r t , differences between the fi s h i n g strategies of "day" and " t r i p " fishermen had to be i d e n t i f i e d . Notable c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the fishery and v a r i a t i o n in the a c t i v i t i e s of conch fishermen are described below. 4.3.1 The f i s h i n g f l e e t Three boat types dominate among the f i s h i n g vessels of Belize : the s k i f f , dugout canoe and sailboat. Their design and construction are reviewed by Shawyer (1975). S k i f f s (Figure 4.1) were introduced in Belize in the early 1960's. They range in length from 4 to 6 m and are outboard powered by engines of generally 20 to 40 hp. They are fast and maneuverable and used almost exclusively for short-range f i s h e r i e s . Popular among fishermen who trap lobster, t h i s type of boat i s found primarily in the Northern waters of Belize. A wide variety of dugout canoes are used by fishermen in Belize (Craig, 1966). In t h i s report a d i s t i n c t i o n is made between canoes greater and less than 5 m. The small canoes Figure 4.1 V-bottom s k i f f (outboard) Figure 4.2 Small dugout canoe (L0A<5m) 84 (Figure 4.2) are taken on s a i l i n g t r i p s . The large dugout canoes may reach up to 10 m and are outboard powered with 9.9 to 25 hp engines (Figure 4.3). Some may also have s a i l s . This larger variety i s used in both the day and t r i p fishery for conch. On fi s h i n g t r i p s , fishermen equip the dugout with a small ice box and may remain at sea (or camp on an island near t h e i r f i s h i n g grounds) for up to f i v e days. Dugouts are slower than s k i f f s but less expensive in the long run. Unlike s k i f f s with an average longevity of four years, dugout canoes w i l l l a s t more than a decade. The canoes, or "dories" as they are c a l l e d in Belize, are most popular in Carib f i s h i n g communities in southern Belize. Boat type i s one of the many differences in f i s h i n g practices between the ethnic groups of Belize. Other differences between the Mestizos in the north, Creoles ' centered around Belize C i t y and the Garifunas in the south are reviewed by Craig (1966) and Price (1986). Sailboats are the largest of the three boat types ranging in length from 7 to 11 m and drawing 0.8 to 1.3 m of water (Figure 4.4). S a i l s are fore and aft rigged with a j i b and main s a i l . Most boats have an outboard (9.9 - 30 hp) as an a u x i l i a r y source of power, and in recent years, several boat owners have had inboard d i e s e l engines i n s t a l l e d . There are two basic types of sailboats used by fishermen in Belize: the smack and "dry-boat". The smack i s characterized by a l i v e well incorporated amidships and i s used most commonly in the f i s h i n g of scale f i s h (Craig, 1966). The dry-boat f i r s t appeared in the 1960's when fishermen began to store t h e i r catch in ice (Price, 1986). Figure 4.4 S a i l i n g craft ("dry-boat") 86 I n s t e a d of a l i v e w e l l , the d r y - b o a t has an i c e b o x a m i d s h i p s . Somewhere between 800 t o 1100 kg of i c e i s l o a d e d p e r t r i p . T h i s i c e w i l l l a s t a p p r o x i m a t e l y 10 days i n the i n s u l a t e d f i s h boxes. The main advantage of the s a i l b o a t i s t h a t i t can accommodate f i v e t o s i x men on extended f i s h i n g t r i p s . Once a f i s h i n g ground i s reached, the s a i l b o a t i s anchored and used a t the l o c a l base where men s t o r e t h e i r c a t c h , cook and s l e e p . S m a l l dugouts, one per crewman, a r e used f o r t h e a c t u a l c o l l e c t i o n of conch. S a i l b o a t s may l a s t f o r 15 y e a r s when kept i n good c o n d i t i o n . Maintenance r e q u i r e s h a u l i n g t h e boat on the average of t w i c e a y e a r f o r p a i n t i n g and r e p a i r s . To cover the c o s t s e n t a i l e d as w e l l as t h e i n i t i a l p urchase of the b o a t , s a i l b o a t owners are awarded an e x t r a s h are of t h e c a t c h each t r i p . The c o s t of f u e l , f o o d and i c e i s s h a r e d e v e n l y among the men aboard. A p p l i c a t i o n s f o r boat l i c e n s e s were examined t o d e t e r m i n e the number of s k i f f s , canoes and s a i l b o a t s l i c e n s e d each y e a r s i n c e 1978. The number of each boat type i s based on the r e l a t i v e p e r c e n t among t h e o r i g i n a l a p p l i c a t i o n s found: BOAT LICENSES C a l . P r o p o r t i o n of Year T o t a l S k i f f s Canoes S a i l b t . Other a p p l i c . sampled 1978 595 317 82 189 7 0.89 1979 280 151 37 90 2 0.89 1980 325 139 64 121 1 0.85 1981 245 96 57 92 0 0.77 1982 344 121 81 139 3 0.86 1983 597 374 114 103 6 0.61 1984 579 350 134 95 0 0.28 The main t r e n d n o t e d i s an i n c r e a s e i n the use of s k i f f s . In 87 1983 and 1984, s k i f f s comprised about 60% of the boat applications sampled, and sailboats less than 20%. License applications available for the f i r s t half of 1985, show the same trend: 57% were for s k i f f s and 15% for sailboats. This recent development may be related to increased a c t i v i t y in the lobster trap fishery (Price, 1986). Engine power of the f l e e t has also increased. In a survey made in Belize in 1966, Allsopp (1967) estimated the t o t a l number of s k i f f s used by Belizean fishermen to be 102, dugout canoes 12 and sailboats 150; 153 outboard engines were also inventoried. If each s k i f f was outboard powered, then only 50 motors were shared among three times that many sailboats. Today, sailboats which rel y s o l e l y on s a i l power are rarely seen. 4.3.2 Crewmen Crew size varies with boat s i z e . Generally one to two men w i l l go out in a s k i f f on a day excursion. The same is true for the large dugouts unless fishermen journey far from port for a period of two or more days. On these t r i p s , up to three men may accompany the boat-owner and small canoes are brought along. A sailboat crew consists usually of four to f i v e men. The range noted during the dockside survey in 1985 was three to eight men per boat. Most of the time the boat-owner accompanies the crew, but on occasion a captain is appointed instead. Crewmen change boats over the course of the year and may p a r t i c i p a t e in both the day and t r i p fishery within a season. 88 Members of the crew generally have equal status but there are some situations where a fisherman is assisted by a helper. The helper w i l l not receive an equal share of the catch but rather a f l a t sum for the day. Young sons accompanying their fathers are often of t h i s category. When crewmen are partners, the catch is divided into equal shares: one for each of the fishermen and one for the boat. The boat's share w i l l be an extra share for the boat-owner i f he made the t r i p . When sold to the cooperative, each share is entered under the member's name so that a second payment can be received. In southern Belize, some of the fishermen have a d i f f e r e n t arrangement for sharing the catch. Instead of working as a team, a s t r i c t account of each man's production is kept. A spring balance is taken on the t r i p and individual fishermen weigh their catch at the end of each day. 4.3.3 Time at sea The length of a fi s h i n g excursion i s what d i f f e r e n t i a t e s the day and t r i p f i s h e r i e s . Day-men are those fishermen who f i s h within an hour or two's distance from port. Trip-men are those fishermen who journey far from t h e i r home port and may not return for two to f i v e days. They include primarily sailboat crews and fishermen who stay at f i s h camps. The l a t t e r i s common among Placencia fishermen, and Belize Ci t y fishermen who f i s h in the Turneffe Islands approximately 40 km southeast of th e i r home port. 89 On s a i l i n g t r i p s , seven to ten days are generally spent at sea. The maximum time away from port is determined by how long the ice in the vessel hold l a s t s . The lower l i m i t on t r i p length is set by p r o f i t a b i l i t y . Men keep account of the i r landings and remain at sea u n t i l they are sure th e i r costs are covered. Within t h i s range, time spent at sea i s determined by the interplay of two factors: weather and f i s h i n g success. During stormy weather, both the mobility of the boats and e f f i c i e n c y of the divers decrease. Capture e f f i c i e n c y is influenced primarily by cold temperatures and reduced v i s i b i l i t y . If the weather turns poor during a t r i p , the men w i l l either: 1) anchor in the lee of an island u n t i l f i s h i n g conditions improve, which w i l l lengthen the time they spend at sea, or 2) return to port, thereby shortening th e i r time at sea. This decision in turn w i l l depend on t h e i r success at fi s h i n g p r i o r to the bad weather. If fi s h i n g is poor, they would be more l i k e l y to remain at sea u n t i l the weather improves. 4.3.4 Areas fished Conch are d i s t r i b u t e d throughout the reef-caye complex along the ba r r i e r reef of Beli z e . The fishery i s concentrated in shallow water not exceeding 18 m in depth. The stock i s believed to extend into reef communities on the edge of the continental shelf to depths of approximately 35 m. From conversations with fishermen, there does not appear to be any v i r g i n populations l e f t ; a l l areas in the inner reef have been fished at sometime in the past. "Stock" i s defined here as legal sized conch in a l l 90 areas accessible to the fishery. More than one unit stock may exist along the coast and reefs of the outer a t o l l s , but in absence of better information on stock identity, one stock is assumed. In general, day-men f i s h in grounds close to their homes and trip-men are found in distant areas such as the Turneffe Islands, the outer a t o l l s , Gladden Entrance and the Sapodilla Cayes (Figure 1.1). General information on where the day- and trip-men of each cooperative dive for conch was obtained from sales receipts and is outlined below: COOPERATIVE AREA FISHED Day-men Trip-men Sartenej a Caribena Northern National Placencia (Not Applicable) Reef Pt. to Caye Caulker Caye Caulker.and South of Belize Cit y to the B l u e f i e l d Range A l l along the main reef as far south as Lighthouse Reef Turneffe Islands, Light-house and Glovers Reefs South of Belize City to Gladden Entrance St. George's Caye South of Belize Ci t y to the B l u e f i e l d to Ranguana Caye Range Cayes inside the main reef from Saddle Caye to Cayes on the main reef east of Dangriga and south to the Laughing Bird Caye Sapodilla Cayes From interviews with conch producers i t appears that the most popular f i s h i n g grounds for conch are the outer a t o l l s (Lighthouse and Glover's Reef) and the Southern Cayes. The Southern Cayes most commonly mentioned included: South Water, 91 South Long, Columbus, Tobacco, S i l k , Ranguana, Sapodilla and Hunting. The location of a cooperative with respect to the fi s h i n g grounds is the main factor that determines i t s r a t i o of day:trip fishermen. Daily production records indicate that a l l of Sarteneja's conch divers fished on a t r i p basis. A high proportion (estimated 90%) of the conch divers from National and Caribe'na are trip-men also. Approximately 75% of the man-days fished for conch by Placencia fishermen are attributed to t r i p -men each season. Due to the large number of day-men located on Caye Caulker, 40% of Northern's conch fishermen are thought to f i s h on a d a i l y basis. The ratios mentioned above for Placencia and Sarteneja fishermen remain the same throughout the year. In the other three cooperatives, the proportion of day:trip fishermen changes for the l a s t three and a half months of the conch season. Sailboats are usually hauled for repairs from A p r i l to June in preparation for the lobster season. Crewmen from these boats who continue to f i s h conch w i l l do so on a d a i l y basis. Taking the entire season and a l l cooperatives into account, I estimate that cooperative fishermen f i s h conch on a d a i l y basis 30% of the time each season, and on a t r i p basis for the remaining 70%. 4 . 3 . 5 Methods of capture Skindiving is believed to have replaced hooking as the primary means of f i s h i n g conch by 1 9 6 7 . The apparatus used to 92 hook conch included a long (6-9 m) pole with two tines attached to one end and a sea-glass. The looking glass consisted of a water tight box sealed with a pane of glass at one end and l e f t open at the other end for viewing. It was used on windy days when the seas were too choppy to see the bottom. Once spotted, conch were l i f t e d to the surface by inserting the curved tines of the hook into the aperture of t h e i r s h e l l s (Doran, 1958; Randall, 1963). The method of hooking is s t i l l used to a limited degree in the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Turks and Caicos Islands (Brownell and Stevely, 1981). Attempts have also been made to dredge for conch in Belize but only on an experimental basis (Baird, 1973). SCUBA diving and hookah are used in a number of countries, eg., Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Lucia, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic, but are prohibited in Belize (Brownell and Stevely, 1981). Lobster and f i s h may be c o l l e c t e d at the same time a diver gathers conch. Fishing methods for these commodities were studied to better understand what decisions a fisherman may make in a l l o c a t i n g his e f f o r t among the species. Descriptions of lobster f i s h i n g methods are given by Price (1986). Details on the species of f i s h harvested commercially in Belize and f i s h i n g techniques used for each are given by Thompson (1945), Auxillou (1967) and Bradley (1978). 93 CHAPTER FIVE Trends in Landings and E f f o r t The basis of management of a f i s h e r y resource depends on accurate and complete s t a t i s t i c s of landings, f i s h i n g e f f o r t and sizes of f i s h caught. Several years of records are required before trends which may warn of depletion or encourage expansion, can be detected. Trends observed in conch landings by the major f i s h i n g cooperatives in Belize are described in section 5.1 of this chapter. Changes in annual production over time, differences between cooperatives, and seasonal patterns in production are described. In section 5.2, the t o t a l number of commercial fishermen in Belize and proportion that dive for conch are estimated. An index of stock abundance, namely the weight of conch landed per man-day by the country's top conch producers, i s used to assess the condition of the stock. The manner in which t o t a l e f f o r t was subsequently estimated i s given in section 5.4. Results of the above analyses are summarized in section 5.5. 5.1 Conch Landings The f i r s t s i g n i f i c a n t increase in conch production occurred in 1967 (Figure 5.1). This i s thought to mark the beginning of a largely commercial, as opposed to subsistence, f i s h e r y . Exports climbed dramatically in the f i v e years to follow, from 174r545 CO z o y-u M CE UJ o o CO o o in o a a o cn a a 01 o a Conch (exports) Conch (landings) Lobster (landings') Fish (landings) I 1955 I960 1965 1970 1975 I960 1965 YEAR Figure 5.1 Conch exports (calendar yr) and production (fiscal yr). (A) Closed season Introduced, 1977; (B) Size limits Introduced, 1978. Data presented in Table 4.1 and Appendix VI 95 kg in 1967 to 562,634 kg in 1972. Thereafter, production declined and continued to do so for the next eight years. By f i s c a l year 1980, cooperative production was at a h i s t o r i c a l low of 128,315 kg. Conch landings improved from 1981 to 1984 but then declined again in 1985 and 1986. Production in 1986 (110,232 kg) was the lowest i t has been in 20 years. Landings of lobster and scale f i s h are plotted in Figure 5.1 for comparison. Total landings of conch, lobster and scale f i s h have d i f f e r e d among cooperatives (Figures 5.2, 5.3 & 5.4; Appendix VI). Relative production of each commodity among the cooperatives depends on the size of the cooperative and i t s interest in the commodity. The membership of each cooperative (Table 5.1) and proportion of i t de l i v e r i n g conch (Table 5.2) are discussed l a t e r on. National has consistently been the largest producer of conch accounting for 30 to 60% of the t o t a l production by cooperatives. Sarteneja was generally in second place over the course of i t s existence but in 1978 and 1981 ac t u a l l y surpassed National in conch production. Prio r to 1974, Caribena was also interested in conch but since then has contributed less and less to the country's t o t a l production. Despite i t s small s i z e , Placencia has ranked t h i r d in conch production over the l a s t decade. Fishermen of the Northern Cooperative have shown l i t t l e interest in conch r e l a t i v e to lobster. This cooperative has been the second largest conch producer since 1982 simply because i t has far more members than the other cooperatives. Each cooperative tends to s p e c i a l i z e in one commodity. National and Sarteneja are recognized for t h e i r 1970 1975 19S0 1985 YEAR (Flaoal) ' Figure 5.2 Conch production by each cooperative. Data presented 1n Appendix VI cn National Northern Caribena Pla c e n c i a Sartenela 1970 1975 1980 1985 YEAR (Fiscal) A /\ F i gu re 5.3 L ob s t e r p r odu c t i o n by each c o o p e r a t i v e . Data p resented 1n Append ix VI LANDINGS (met r i c tons) 0 50 100 150 200 c -J CD m o o r+ — - at o» —• C L ro T3 Bt -i c+ -h n> o» in <A CD C 3" 3 3 rr fl» 73 r o < - s Q- Q> O ->• a. - i . — i c 3 0» O CT rt-J . — I - I . T3 f0 O • a 3 r o i 3 CT a. < << x — • r o c a t « C r o O M 3* CD X O rr O -5 O Ot TJ TD CD O -J — ' Ql 0» er r+ rD < a. r o m > 31 a o a (0 o (0 Ol (0 03 O (0 a> cn Tl O Z Z M a o IOI o n 1 t* (i f» k» » tr J a • 9 3 o 3< i a f* a 3 M o 86 99 Table 5.1 Number of cooperative fishermen: Total membership (T) and active members (A). FISC. -NATIONAL NORTHERN CARIBENA PLACENCIA SARTENEJA TOTALS YEAR T A T A T A T A T A T A 1965 152 - 143 - 135 - 75 - 0 0 505 -1966 - - - - - - - - 0 0 - -1967 158 97 - - - - - - 54 - 212 -1968 184 105 - - - - 75 - 41 - 300 -1969 185 110 145 - 161 - 64 - 49 - 604 — 1970 195 108 157 - 177 122 82 - 49 - 660 -1971 219 138 158 - 186 126 82 - 61 - 706 — 1972 260 177 163 103 210 163 78 47 52 40 763 530 1973 194+ 187 160 106 222 176 80 48 52 40 708 557 1974 206 189 163 112 221 179 89 56 142 111 821 647 1975 208 174 169 122 213 158 87 72 150 118 827 644 1976 211 191 178 152 213 158 94 83 135 82+ 831 666 1977 219 188 183 164 234 191 94 78 159 101+ 889 722 1978 202 170 191 171 237 187 86 76 155 131 871 735 1979 197 156 199 176 233 188 92 68 159 132 880 720 1980 194 148 211 192 229 177 82 62 141 111 857 690 1981 227 181 240 209 234 179 79 66 140 120 920 755 1982 265 226 295 261 225 175 88 71 41 41 914 774 1983 326 281 339 296 214 160 96 77 0 0 975 814 1984 361 302 372 334 200 154 99 86 0 0 1032 876 1985 353 305 421 372 178 147 98 76 • 0 0 1050 900 1986 410 320 432 355 167 134 81 63+ 0 0 1090 872 - data not available + figure thought to be s l i g h t l y underestimated 100 Table 5.2 Relative percentage of cooperative fishermen delivering conch. Absolute number (#) and percentage (%) of the cooperative's total number of producers. FISC. NATIONAL NORTHERN CARIBENA PLACENCIA SARTENEJA TOTAL YEAR # % # % # % # % # % # % 1967 24 25 - - - - 0 0 0 0 — — 1968 68 65 - - - - - - 0 0 — — 1969 74 67 - - - - - - - — — — 1970 73 68 - - - - - - — • - — — 1971 106 77 - - 96 76 - - - — — — 1972 144 81 31 30 122 75 - - — — _ — 1973 154 82 29 27 138 78 - - — — — — 1974 153 81 39 35 143 80 - - — — — — 1975 155 90 53 43 - - - - — _ — — 1976 156 82 50 33 - - - - — — — — 1977 150 80 69 42 136 71 - - — — — — 1978 114 67 58 34 143 76 65 86 127 97 507 69 1979 102 65 70 40 150 80 58 85 129 98 509 71 1980 90 61 99 52 125 68 53 85 105 95 472 68 1981 120 66 89 43 105 59 56 85 111 93 481 64 1982 155 69 143 55 116 66 62 87 41 100 517 67 1983 214 76 190 64 116 73 66 86 0 0 586 72 1984 241 80 214 64 102 66 71 83 0 0 628 72 1985 - - 265 71 118 80 - - 0 0 — — 1986 221 69 174 49 114 85 - - 0 0 - -- Data not available 101 conch production and Northern and Caribena for th e i r lobster and f i s h production. Caribena has the highest proportion of members interested in f i s h but follows National in t o t a l production because of a difference in absolute s i z e . Placencia fishermen appear to be equally interested in a l l three commodities. The pattern of production of conch within a year has changed over the years for a l l cooperatives. In the 1960's, fishermen landed conch primarily during the off-season for lobster. From 1970 to 1973, conch was fished heavily a l l year round except during holidays (eg. Christmas and Easter) and when lobster was most abundant (eg., when the lobster season f i r s t opened) (Figure 5.5). For the next four years, conch landings were greatest in the months of August through October. After the closed season was introduced in 1978, landings for these three month were e s s e n t i a l l y condensed into one. From 1978 to 1984 an average of 30% of the year's t o t a l was delivered in October (Figure 5.6). Another 40% was delivered during the off-season for lobster which extends 107 days. The last 30% of the landings was delivered in the remaining 136 days of the season. In 1985, conch landings for October averaged 39% of the year's t o t a l while those during the off-season for lobster averaged 25%. Unlike that for conch, the pattern in monthly production of scale f i s h and lobster has remained the same from year to year; only the magnitude of landings has changed. The scale f i s h f i s hery i s highly seasonal with f i l l e t production peaking during the spawning seasons for grouper which occurs sometime between 102 30 h 25 20 15 10 5 N O R T H E R N ( 1 9 6 8 / 6 9 S e a s o n ) JUL/68 OCT/BB JAN/69 APR/69 JUL/69 MONTH J I I I L JUL/76 OCT/76 JAN/77 APR/77 JUL/77 MONTH F i g u r e 5.5 Monthly l a n d i n g s of conch i n f i s c a l years 1968 and 1976. 103 C O N C H L O B S T E R JUL/84 OCT/B4 JAN/85 APR/B5 JUL /85 MONTH W H O L E F I S H F I L L E T i ' ' 1 1  JUL/84 OCT/84 JAN/85 APR/85 JUL/85 MONTH F i g u r e 5.6 Monthly p r o d u c t i o n of conch, l o b s t e r and s c a l e f i s h i n 1984 ( N a t i o n a l C o o p e r a t i v e ) . 104 December and February (Dres and Meyers, 1965; M i l l e r , 1984). Most of the lobster is caught during the f i r s t f i v e months of the season. McElroy (1965) claimed th i s is because trap y i e l d s increase with moulting and feeding a c t i v i t y in the warmer months (July through August) and with migrations in the rough weather months (November through December). The inshore migrations he refers to are known as "lobster runs". They usually occur after a "northern" which i s a strong, cold north wind l a s t i n g three to four days. Low landings of lobster in September may be the result of combination of factors: high r a i n f a l l , two national holidays and school-age fishermen returning to classes. Trap yiel d s as well as e f f o r t are reduced by heavy rains because lobster generally migrate away from the shallow-water trapping areas when s a l i n i t y decreases sharply (Gibson, 1980). There i s a quota on lobster l i m i t i n g annual exports to 244,944 kg (540,000 lb) but I do not think i t influences the pattern of production. The quota was not reached u n t i l 1981, and since then, has been increased. It does not appear that fishermen are concerned about getting a share of the resource before the quota is f i l l e d . Today's seasonal pattern in conch production appears to be defined by the species' abundance r e l a t i v e to lobster and f i s h . Now that conch are d i f f i c u l t to f i n d , most fishermen only dive for them when the f i s h i n g season f i r s t opens. By the end of a month, the density of conch in the popular f i s h i n g grounds is low and most fishermen switch back to lobster leaving what conch remain in these areas and in less productive areas to s p e c i a l i s t s who dive for conch year round. Fishermen diving for 105 lobster and f i s h w i l l continue to take conch but only when they happen to come across them. 5.2 Number of fishermen landing conch 5.2.1 Total number of fishermen in Belize The t o t a l number of active fishermen in Belize from 1978 to 1984 i s estimated to have been the following: NUMBER OF FISHERMEN F i s c a l Total active Estimated t o t a l Grand Year coop, men indep. men t o t a l 1978 735 348 1083 1979 720 365 1085 1980 690 372 1062 1981 755 405 1160 1982 774 527 1301 1983 814 536 1350 1984 876 799 • 1675 There has been a large and sudden increase in the number of fishermen in the 1980's. Between 1981 and 1984, the t o t a l increased by 44% from 1160 to 1675. The rate of increase in the number of independent fishermen was greater than that for cooperative fishermen. In 1981, independents comprised 35% of the t o t a l ; by 1984 they comprised 48%. In comparison, the number of registered fishermen in the Turks and Caicos Islands which exports far more conch than Belize to the United States, was 300 in 1982 (Hamaludin, 1982). 106 The number of boat licenses issued over the above period was also estimated: BOAT LICENSES Cal. Total Number issued Proportion of Year issued to independents applic. available 1978 595 84 0.79 1979 280 52 0.80 1980 325 68 0.75 1981 245 77 0.70 1982 344 81 0.79 1983 597 147 0.55 1984 579 138 0.26 The proportion of licenses issued to independents was determined from the applications for boat licenses (Appendix V; Form A l ) . The estimated number of independent fishermen purchasing boat licenses in 1983 and 1984 was double the average for e a r l i e r years, but i t i s d i f f i c u l t to be certain of the true number of f i s h i n g boats in operation. This i s because few men renew t h e i r boat licenses on a yearly basis as regulations require. Most wait u n t i l they go to renew t h e i r fishermen licenses which may be once every f i v e years. The increase in boat licenses in 1983 therefore, may be related to the renewal of licenses issued in 1978. The sudden increase in the number of participants in the f i s h i n g industry in the 1980's may be explained by two events. One is the recent influx of refugees from neighbouring countries and the other i s l a y - o f f s in the sugar industry. Between 1980 and 1983 about 5,000 refugees from Guatemala and E l Salvador s e t t l e d in Belize (Bollard, 1986). In 1984, the Government of Belize offered the refugees a l i e n residency through a 90 day 107 amnesty period (Government of Belize, 1 9 8 4 b ) . Since then, forty aliens have applied for f i s h i n g licenses. The actual number of aliens f i s h i n g in Belize however, i s probably much greater because Belizean fishermen have been r e c r u i t i n g aliens as crew for years (BFCA, 1 9 8 3 b ) . The incentive being that foreign helpers s e t t l e for lower wages than t h e i r Belizean counterparts. The employment s i t u a t i o n in other sectors of the economy may also influence the number of people entering the f i s h i n g industry. S h i f t s in demand for sugar since 1980 has lead to economic d i f f i c u l t i e s among the cane growers in B e l i z e . As a consequence, hundreds of people have been l a i d off (Bollard, 1 9 8 6 ) . In northern towns and v i l l a g e s , for example Sarteneja, many people work in the sugar as well as the f i s h i n g industry. The lack of employment in the former may have steered more individuals toward f i s h i n g for a l i v e l i h o o d . 5 . 2 . 2 Proportion of fishermen de l i v e r i n g conch With no catch data for independent fishermen, license applications had to be used to determine the proportion of those who dive, and therefore, l i k e l y to f i s h conch. Information on applications may be up to f i v e years old, but i t i s assumed that fishermen w i l l remain divers over t h i s period of time. The sample of applications completed by independents between 1978 and July, 1985 t o t a l l e d 6 6 8 . Sixty percent of the applicants claimed they were divers, and nearly half of these were 17 years of age or younger. In September of 1 9 8 4 , the Fishery Advisory Board proclaimed that a l l fishermen 12 years and older had to be 108 licensed. I believe t h i s is why such a high proportion of licenses were issued to young divers. Since diving is more common among young fishermen than older ones, the above r a t i o of divers to nondivers is believed to be biased high and i t is predicted that closer to 50% of the independent fishermen dive for conch. License information also indicated that much of the conch landed by independents is channelled through the cooperatives. Independents regularly name a cooperative as t h e i r normal place of landing catch on t h e i r license applications. Their serving as crew for cooperative members may also explain the small number of boat licenses issued to independents. A time lag between the minimum license age (12 years) and minimum age of entry into a cooperative (18 years) means that young divers w i l l be classed as independents. From a dockside survey and interviews with s t a f f at the cooperatives, i t is apparent that most of these young divers f i s h with r e l a t i v e s a f f i l i a t e d with a cooperative. F i n a l l y , cooperative produce vouchers on which members are i d e n t i f i e d as the s e l l e r s but nonmembers have signed for the cash are common. This observation further supports the hypothesis that independent fishermen work with cooperative members and place t h e i r catch under the name of a registered member on a regular basis. A s i g n i f i c a n t number of men in each cooperative dive for conch, but the degree to which each cooperative benefits from conch d i f f e r s . The number of.men landing conch each year was 109 determined from second payment schedules (Table 5.2). From 1972 to 1976, National had the largest proportion (83%) of active members deli v e r i n g conch, and Northern, the smallest (34%). In the 1980's, the difference between the two cooperatives was les s . The percent of National's members interested in conch dropped to 70% and Northern's increased to 56%. Caribe'na's interest in conch has changed l i t t l e over the years. The number of members deli v e r i n g conch dropped by 10% in the 1980's to an average of 66% of the t o t a l membership. Data are limited for Sarteneja and Placencia but indicate that these cooperatives have the greatest dependence on conch. An average of 96% of Sarteneja's membership delivered conch from 1978 to 1982. The average for Placencia is in the neighbourhood of 85%. Changes in the proportion of National and Northern's membership landing conch in the 1970's resulted from an exchange between memberships with Sarteneja and Caribe'na (Figure 5.7). From 1980 to 1984, Northern granted membership to 20 fishermen from Caribena and 10 from Sarteneja. National took in two fishermen from Caribena and 60 from Sarteneja. The di s s o l u t i o n of Sarteneja in 1982, f i n a n c i a l d i f f i c u l t i e s experienced by Caribena in 1983 and tendency for fishermen to transfer to cooperatives a l l o c a t i n g higher second payments are the main factors leading to the exchange. To calculate the grand t o t a l of fishermen that dive for conch each year, the number of fishermen within the cooperatives who land conch (see Table 5.2) was added to an estimate of the number of independents who dive ( i . e . , 50% of the licensed —I 1 1 1_ 1970 1975 1980 1985 YEAR (Fiscal) Figure 5.7 Number of active fishermen in each cooperative. Data presented in Table 5.1. I l l independent fishermen; see section 5.2.1): NUMBER OF FISHERMEN WHO DIVE FOR CONCH F i s c a l Coop, members Independents Total Year (% of t o t a l fishermen) 1978 507 174 681 (63) 1979 509 183 692 (64) 1980 472 186 658 (62) 1981 481 203 684 (60) 1982 517 264 781 (60) 1983 586 268 854 (64) 1984 628 400 1028 (61) These figures indicate that many more cooperative fishermen dive for conch than independents and the number of men diving for conch is on the increase. The proportion of t o t a l fishermen interested in conch has remained the same at an average of about 62%. An average of about 31% of the fishermen believed to dive for conch are independents. It i s not possible to estimate t h e i r production given t h i s percentage and knowledge of what cooperative fishermen produce because many independents d e l i v e r their catch to the cooperatives under a member's name in the f i r s t place. 5.3 Standardization of e f f o r t data 5.3.1 Man-days fished by t r i p fishermen Extracting information on the catch and e f f o r t of t r i p fishermen from cooperative sales receipts is d i f f i c u l t due to the system of shares. The sales receipt which i s made out to each cooperative member may not be representative of one man's catch. The weight of conch recorded under a t r i p fisherman's 112 name upon delivery may actually be a share of the boat's t o t a l production. If so, t h i s figure w i l l be less than what he r e a l l y caught over the course of the t r i p . A l t e r n a t i v e l y , i f the sales receipt i s a boatowner's, then the landings per man recorded w i l l be overestimated. Data are also biased high i f the receipt belongs to a member of the crew with an additional man's share under his name. The unidentified share may belong to another member or a nonmember. Members trying to slow th e i r repayment of loans received from the cooperative w i l l put t h e i r production in another's name. This way t h e i r loan payment which i s deducted automatically from th e i r account w i l l amount to less. Such transactions are also common among boat-owners wishing to remain within a certain tax bracket. By d i s t r i b u t i n g t h e i r production amongst the crew, captains with high earnings may lower the income value recorded under th e i r name in the cooperative f i l e s . F i n a l l y , fishermen not e l i g i b l e for membership because they are underage, not Belizean c i t i z e n s , or in poor standing with another cooperative, may put t h e i r catch in a member's name to receive a second payment. The problem of not knowing how many shares one receipt accounts for, can be resolved by ensuring that sales receipts are kept in sequence, i . e . , ordered by time of delivery or receipt number. The number of equally sized shares attributed to each t r i p can then be i d e n t i f i e d and counted. The number of men aboard equals the number of shares minus one for the boat. The weight of conch delivered by the boat i s then divided by the t o t a l number of men aboard to estimate true landings per man-113 t r i p . Errors in the estimates of days fished per t r i p i s another problem encountered when estimating e f f o r t from sales receipts. Most often than not, t r i p fishermen record the number of days they are away from port. These figures w i l l overestimate days fished because they include time spent t r a v e l l i n g . The main difference in t r a v e l l i n g time between day and t r i p fishermen is the extra time i t takes the trip-men to s a i l to and from their f i s h i n g grounds. Once there, trip-men expend as much time moving th e i r sailboats from one conch bed to the next as day-men spend t r a v e l l i n g to and from t h e i r f i s h i n g s i t e within a day. In this report, an average of two days t r a v e l l i n g time per t r i p was a l l o t t e d for sailboats and one day for dugout canoes to standardized man-days. Variation in the form of propulsion (eg., 9.5 hp versus 40 hp) was not taken into account. 5.3.2 A l l o c a t i o n of e f f o r t among species The proportion of man-days (md) fished for each major commodity has d i f f e r e d over the years. Before trends could be i d e n t i f i e d in the conch fishery, t h i s had to be taken into account. To investigate the rela t i o n s h i p between the three commodities, fishermen d e l i v e r i n g conch were separated into three sub-groups: 1) men d e l i v e r i n g lobster, conch and f i s h together in a year; 2) men d e l i v e r i n g conch and one other commodity in a year; and 3) men d e l i v e r i n g conch only. The r e l a t i v e percent of each group at National i s plotted in Figure 114 5.8. For many years fishermen concentrated mainly on lobster and conch. Then in 1974, when an export market was established for whole f i s h , there was a switch: more fishermen began to f i s h a l l three commodities within a year. With more e f f o r t diverted toward f i s h , less time was spent diving for conch. On a t r i p basis, divers generally concentrate on one commodity and deliv e r an incidental amount of other f i s h products. They f i s h in areas where the targetted species i s most abundant. In the case of lobster and f i s h , that i s near the reef crest. Conch, on the other hand, is found in sea-grass beds set back from the reef. If time is devoted equally among the commodities fished, i t is usually because abundance of the f i s h -type f i r s t aimed for was found to be low. Man-days devoted to each species are not recorded on the sales receipts. Therefore, care must be taken to separate data on t r i p s made for conch only from those on t r i p s during which more than one commodity i s fished. Knowing the number of hours fished per day would provide more accurate estimations of e f f o r t , but data of t h i s sort i s more d i f f i c u l t to gather and may require the use of onboard observers. 5.4 Landings-per-unit-effort (LPUE) Estimates of the weight of conch landed per man-day were calculated to study the decline in conch abundance. The results are presented below and ordered by data source. The best sources of e f f o r t data were the d a i l y production records for the PROPORTION OF MEMBERS DELIVERING EACH CATEGORY (AS SPECIFIED IN LEGEND) 0 . 0 0 . 2 0 . 4 0 . 6 0 . 8 911 116 Sarteneja Cooperative and the dockside survey. However, these provided information for only one to four years. To obtain a longer time series of LPUE values, a rough and ready method of estimating LPUE from landings s t a t i s t i c s alone had to be devised. These estimates of average LPUE for the year are used primarily to identif y trends. 5.4.1 Sarteneja Cooperative (1978-1982) The average LPUE of Sarteneja fishermen was calculated for the years 1978 through 1982. Records of production by these trip-men were kept in order so that shares could be i d e n t i f i e d (see section 5.3.1). Man-days (md) per t r i p was calculated by assuming that the average number of days fished per t r i p was seven. E f f o r t was summed over a l l t r i p s to a r r i v e at t o t a l annual e f f o r t . Trips during which only conch was fished are termed "conch-only" t r i p s ; those during which lobster and conch were both caught are referred to as "conch-plus" t r i p s . Sarteneja fishermen did not delive r f i s h to t h e i r cooperative over the time period considered here. LPUE varied l i t t l e over the l a s t four years for which the cooperative was in operation (Table 5.3A). Much more time was devoted to conch-only t r i p s . On t r i p s when lobster was also caught, only a t h i r d of the man-days was devoted to conch. Average monthly LPUE was also calculated for Sarteneja fishermen but no within-year trend could be discerned. This is l i k e l y because fishermen changed f i s h i n g areas throughout the season. 117 Table 5.3 Variation in estimates of landings-per-unit-effort (LPUE) A. LPUE (kg/md) OF SARTENEJAN FISHERMEN F i s c a l Conch-only Trips Conch-plus Trips Year Landings md LPUE Landings md LPUE (kg) (kg) 1978 73362 4443 16.5 12285 2031 6.0 1979 61165 4100 14.9 3821 840 4.5 1980 30790 2464 12.5 4729 1064 4.4 1981 49794 3640 13.7 6811 1413 4.8 1982 13218 924 14.3 0 0 -N.B. Landings include those by nonmembers also. B. LPUE (kg/md) DURING THE OFF-SEASON FOR LOBSTER, 1985: Differences between day- and trip-fishermen. COOPERATIVE DAY-MEN TRIP-MEN Landings (kg) md LPUE Landings md LPUE (kg) Caribefia 4487 439 10.2 not f i s h i n g Northern C. Caulker 2147 202 10.6 none Belize C i t y 266 21 12.7 10084 765 13.2 National 2522 249 10.1 18335 1684 10.9 Placencia 2847 211 13.5 not known C. LPUE (kg/md) DURING THE OFF-SEASON FOR LOBSTER, 1985: Bias introduced when man-days are overestimated COOPERATIVE CONCH-ONLY* CONCH-PLUS-FISH Landings (kg) md LPUE Landings (kg) md LPUE Caribefia 4487 439 10.2 1491 227 6.6 Northern C. Caulker 2147 202 10.6 577 65 8.9 Belize C i t y 10350 786 13.2 1076 189 5.7 National 20857 1933 10.8 425 83 5.1 Placencia - tot als for t r i p men not known -* includes d e l i v e r i e s by t r i p - and day-men 118 5.4.2 Other cooperatives (1984 f i s h i n g season) Sales receipts for conch were collected during the o f f -season for lobster in 1985. Landings and man-days were t a l l i e d for t h i s period and used to calculate an average LPUE (Table 5.3B). These data tend to indicate that LPUE in the southern regions is higher. Although data were i n s u f f i c i e n t to discern man-days fished by Placencia trip-men in 1985, records of d a i l y d e l i v e r i e s for the previous year show that they landed an average of 13.7 kg/md (30.3 lb/md). Trip-men diving in the Southern Cayes in June, 1985 had an average LPUE of 14.6 kg/md (32.1 lb/md). It is evident from Table 5.3B that trip-men deliv e r the majority of the catch and that National was most active in the t r i p f i s h ery. During the closed season for lobster, Caribefia is active in the day fishery but not in the t r i p f i s h ery. There are es s e n t i a l l y no trip-men stationed at Caye Caulker. It i s d i f f i c u l t to say i f LPUE for day-men is the same as that for trip-men. It depends where the fishermen f i s h . If trip-men venture south, th e i r LPUE w i l l probably be greater than a day-man's in northern waters. However, i f a day-man is f i s h i n g just outside the ba r r i e r reef in deeper waters not previously fished, his LPUE may be greater than a trip-man's. LPUE estimates based on data c o l l e c t e d during the dockside survey were 13.6 kg/md (29.9 lb/md) for day-men and 13.3 kg/md (29 .3 lb/md) for t r i p -men, but day-men fi s h i n g deep-water populations were included in the sample which probably explains the s i m i l a r i t y in values (see 119 section 3.5 of Chapter Three). In 1985, most of the d e l i v e r i e s made during the off-season for lobster consisted of conch only (Table 5.3C). As noted e a r l i e r , the LPUE for a conch-plus excursion i s much lower because the estimate is based on the t o t a l number of days spent f i s h i n g and not those aimed s p e c i f i c a l l y at conch. S t a t i s t i c s on d e l i v e r i e s of conch made in October, 1985 were obtained from Northern's receiving station on Caye Caulker. Landings t o t a l l e d 1,591 kg for the month and were delivered by day-men only. The number of man-days allocated to excursions for more than one commodity equalled that for conch only, i . e . , 118 md. The LPUE of men diving s o l e l y for conch was 8.8 kg/md (19.5 lb/md). Men f i s h i n g more than the one commodity on the same day landed 4.7 kg (10.3 lb) of conch per man-day. From the calculations above, i t i s evident which cooperative i s most interested in conch and what the r e l a t i v e contribution of each i s to the day and t r i p f i s h e r i e s . The importance of separating sales receipts by the type of t r i p (conch-only or conch-plus) i s c l e a r l y i l l u s t r a t e d . 5.4.3 Fisheries Department data LPUE data for the conch fishery in Belize was derived from cooperative sales receipts by the Fisheries Department for the years 1976 through 1983 (Gibson, 1981). The receipts used 120 included those on which days fished, area fished and weight landed were a l l recorded. It is not known i f they correspond to d e l i v e r i e s of conch only or that of one man. LPUE was calculated from these data for this report by dividing the sum of landings recorded on these receipts by the sum of man-days (Table 5.4). The results indicate a decline in LPUE from 30.5 kg/md (67.3 lb/md) in 1976 to 12.2 kg/md (26.8 lb/md) in 1983. However, since conch-plus excursions are included in the calculations and there was no way to account for the trend toward fewer days fished for conch r e l a t i v e to f i s h , I suspect that these results overestimate the decline in LPUE. Data were grouped by area so changes in LPUE in one area over time could also be assessed (Table 5.5). Although there is some v a r i a b i l i t y within area over the years, i t appears LPUE is greater in the southern f i s h i n g grounds (eg., Glover's Reef, Placencia and Ranguana Caye). The largest amount of data are available for Caye Caulker and estimates of LPUE for th i s area varied l i t t l e from 1978 to 1984. 5.4.4 Annual landings s t a t i s t i c s LPUE in past years was also derived from s t a t i s t i c s on the annual production of conch by each cooperative member. To use th i s information, the assumption was made that conch fishermen are comprised of three kinds: men f i s h i n g conch intensely throughout the year; those interested in conch primarily in October and/or the off-season for lobster; and men fi s h i n g conch 121 Table 5.4 Estimated average LPUE (kg/md) for the year based on cooperative landings s t a t i s t i c s and Fisheries Department data DATA SOURCE: COOPERATIVES FISHERIES DEPT. FISCAL NAT. NOR. CAR. PLA. SAR. AVE. FOR AVE. FOR YEAR COUNTRY+ COUNTRY (N) 1967 21.9 - - - - 21.9 -1968 32.4 - - - - 32.4 -1969 45.5 - - - - 45.5 -1970 46.5 - - - - 46.5 -1971 58.2 - 12.1 - - 36.0* -1972 52.1 73.8 14.8 - - 38.7 -1973 45.7 30.2 23.5 - - 36.2 -1974 32.7 22.5 12.6 - - 23.6 -1975 49.4 31.7 - - - 45.8* -1976 39.3 32.4 - - - 38.1* 30.5 (448) 1977 29.7 19.2 5.9 - - 18.2 13.6 (371) 1978 23.4 24.0 6.7 - 13. 7 14.8 23.9 (665) 1979 30.8 22.0 7.7 14.5 14. 0 16.1 22.0 (475) 1980 23.4 14.0 - - 11. 1 15.2 17.4 (781) 1981 22.5 19.0 2.3 - 16. 0 14.6 14.2 (988) 1982 18.0 13.8 3.8 14.6 0 15.5 11.4 (2019) 1983 18.8 13.8 8.1 12.5 0 14.2 12.2 (570) 1984 22.1 9.8 10.5 10.3 0 14.7 -1985 - 7.4 7.6 - 0 7.5* -1986 8.8 5.1 5.6 - 0 6.9 -Nat. - National Cooperative Nor. - Northern Cooperative Car. - Caribena Cooperative Pla. - Placencia Cooperative Sar. - Sarteneja Cooperative * values changed in the f i n a l estimation of effort (see Table 5.6) N number of sales receipts used in estimation of LPUE + Average LPUE = Total landings ( a l l co-ops) Sum of effort per co-op Effort/co-op = cooperative's landings LPUE for cooperative 122 Table 5.5 LPUE (kg/md) in major f i s h i n g grounds of Belize (Number of sales receipts used in the calculations) Cal. Year C C . Bz .C. Trnf. HMC Glovers Plac. Rang. 1 976 227.3 ( 2 ) 66.7 ( 11) 26.4 ( 11) 1 977 1 1.7 (184) 14.3 ( 48) 9.1 ( 31) 16.4 ( 21) 15.4 ( 27) - -1978 8.4 (127) 19.7 ( 95) 15.2 ( 19) 25.6 ( 10) 29.7 ( 20) 31.1 (109) 23.6 ( 26) 1979 12.8 ( 55) 13.8 ( 51) 21.5 ( 13) 47.6 ( 10) 44.7 ( 25) 14.7 ( 43) 18.6 ( 17) 1980 10.2 (203) 13.4 ( 17) 14.0 ( 16) 28.8 ( 18) 14.2 ( 79) 21.4 ( 69) 13.3 ( 27) 1981 7.3 (108) 9.1 (160) 8.4 ( 10) 13.5 ( 6) 15.2 ( 25) 17.4 ( 74) 27.5 ( 8) 1982 10.4 (165) 9.1 (252) 3.3 ( 24) 9.1 ( 1) - 19. 1 ( 74) 21.5 ( 9) 1983 8.6 (173) 11.6 (219) 5.6 ( 13) - - - -1984* 10.6 (202) 10.1 (249) 10.1 ( 2) 12.5 ( 4) - 13.5 (211 ) -1985* 8.8 ( 68) 10.3 ( 62) - - - - -1984* = average over off-season for lobster (March-June, 1985) 1985* = average for month of October, 1985 C C . - Caye Caulker Bz.C - Islands near Belize C i t y Trnf. - Turneffe Islands HMC - Half Moon Caye, Lighthouse Reef +Glovers - Glovers Reef +Plac. - Islands near Placencia +Rang. - Ranguana Caye (+ Southern areas) 123 i n c i d e n t a l l y a l l year long. The f i r s t group was used in the ca l c u l a t i o n of LPUE because t h i s was the only one for which days fished/year could be estimated. These fishermen were also less l i k e l y to have reduced the days/year they spent f i s h i n g conch over the years. The top 10% of fishermen in each cooperative with the highest annual production of conch were considered representative of t h i s group. The maximum possible number of days that each of these men could have fished conch in a year was calculated by subtracting an estimate of time spent in port and t r a v e l l i n g (Appendix VII). Dividing the mean annual production of top producers by this estimate of days fished yielded an average value of LPUE for the year. The cooperative's t o t a l landings was then divided by t h i s LPUE to calculate the e f f o r t exerted by the cooperative. Because these calculations are only applicable to top producers for which days fished per year can be estimated, an underlying assumption i s made that the average LPUE derived from the best conch producers is the same for a l l conch producers in the cooperative. E f f o r t may, therefore, be s l i g h t l y underestimated. In estimating how many days/year conch fishermen were l i k e l y to spend f i s h i n g , i t was assumed that they remained ashore 228 days per year for the following reasons (Appendix VII): 1. The season for conch i s closed from July 1 to September 30; 2. Cooperatives are closed on Sundays; 3. Fishermen take time off when -a) i t s a major holiday (eg. Easter, Christmas, and Saint George's Day and Independence Day in September) b) they receive t h e i r second payment in May, and 124 c) Cooperatives hold their Annual Meeting in June; 4. Boat are hauled ashore for repairs on an average of four weeks a year; 5. Five days per month are lost to unfavorable weather condit ions. Time a l l o t t e d to the last three items was based on personal estimates. The f i n a l estimate of days at sea was 137 per year. When there was no closed season for conch, fishermen could spend 189 days at sea. For men in the day fishery, this time is equivalent to time spent f i s h i n g . However, for men in the t r i p fishery turn-over time in port between t r i p s and t r a v e l l i n g time to and fro distant f i s h i n g grounds must be subtracted. The time needed between each f i s h i n g t r i p to unload catch and replenish stores of food, ice and fuel is estimated to be two days. The same amount was a l l o t t e d for t r a v e l time per t r i p . Conch fishermen in Belize f i s h on a t r i p basis approximately 70% of the time during a season (see Chapter Four). Based on th i s r a t i o , men in the t r i p fishery, as of 1978, could make nine t r i p s a season. Removal of four days per t r i p for turn-around and t r a v e l from time devoted to the t r i p fishery results in a t o t a l of 61 days f i s h i n g per year. In t o t a l , an estimated 102 days could be spent f i s h i n g conch: 61 days on a t r i p basis plus 41 days on a day basis. Based on the same method of c a l c u l a t i o n , an estimated 141 days could have been spent f i s h i n g conch each year p r i o r to 1978. Values of LPUE derived from the method above are presented for each cooperative in Table 5.3. On the whole, they tend to agree with the trend indicated by the LPUE values estimated from the Sarteneja data and from the Fisheries Department's data for 125 individual areas. The drawback with t h i s method i s evident by the v a r i a b i l i t y in LPUE among cooperatives. The accuracy of the average LPUE calculated for the top conch producers depends on the data extracted from the o r i g i n a l sales receipts. If more than one man's share per t r i p i s routinely entered, the LPUE calculated w i l l be overestimated. If the top producers are landing other commodities besides conch during the conch season, th i s estimate of days fished/year w i l l overestimate the true number of man-days and LPUE w i l l be underestimated. When LPUE values estimated for top producers in 1984 are compared with true values calculated d i r e c t l y from sales receipts, i t is evident that annual landings recorded for National's top producers are biased high: LPUE (kg/md) FOR 1984 (ave. for day & trip-men) COOPERATIVE LPUE TYPE National Northern Caribena Placencia Top 10% of Producers 22.1 9.8 10.5 10.3 (ave. for year) Sales Receipts 10.8 12.7 10.2 13.5 (end of season) Observations made at dockside support the hypothesis that producers at National d e l i v e r more than one man's share in their name. In June, 1985 landings delivered by 10 boats were sampled. This represented the catch of 33 fishermen. However, only 19 sales receipts were made out. The remaining 14 men delivering t h e i r catch in another's name were not members of National. 126 There i s less of a discrepancy between true and estimated values of LPUE for Sarteneja: LPUE (kg/md) BY SARTENEJAN FISHERMEN F i s c a l Based on records of Based on production of Year d a i l y d e l i v e r i e s top conch producers (True) (Estimated) 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 16.3 15.0 12.5 13.8 14.3 13.7 14.0 11.1 16.1 This i s more l i k e l y because the biases described in the above paragraph cancel each other; not because more of the data pertain to single fishermen diving for conch the f u l l 102 days. As long as the top producers maintain th e i r routine and there is a the same amount of bias each year, the results of thi s last method w i l l i l l u s t r a t e the trend in LPUE. Based on thi s assumption, the results indicate that LPUE dropped dramatically between 1971 and 1978, remained stable u n t i l 1984 and then dropped abruptly for a second time in 1985 and 1986. How well these changes in LPUE r e f l e c t those in the abundance of S. gigas, a semi-mobile species known to have a patchy d i s t r i b u t i o n , is debatable. The qua l i t y of the index depends on the degree of s p a t i a l and temporal v a r i a t i o n in c a t c h a b i l i t y . Possible change in c a t c h a b i l i t y are outlined below, but as there are no data with which to quantify t h e i r e f f e c t , I have based my conclusions regarding stock condition on trends observed in LPUE. 127 One of the reasons why estimated s t a t i s t i c s may not t r u l y represent what is happening in the conch stocks is because only part of the stock is accessible to the fishery - populations located at depths less than 18 m. The abundance of animals at greater depths i s not known but reports from sport-divers in Belize suggest that the number of deep water populations may be s i g n i f i c a n t . Their exclusion from the exploitable stock means LPUE is at best an index of apparent abundance and not true abundance (Marr, 1951). The use of LPUE as an index of abundance i s also d i f f i c u l t because Strombus qiqas have a contagious d i s t r i b u t i o n . As a result of t h i s s p a t i a l heterogeneity there may be a hy p e r s t a b i l i t y in c a t c h a b i l i t y (q); abundance may be dropping with the number of clumps while LPUE remains stable. If there are two d i s t i n c t types of density - a large, low density of animals o v e r a l l with small, dense patches scattered among them -abundance would be misrepresented by LPUE in a d i f f e r e n t way. As long as fishermen could f i n d clumps, their LPUE would remain high. Once these patches were removed, LPUE would drop suddenly with the change in s p a t i a l d i s t r i b u t i o n even though abundance may s t i l l be high. Conversations with fishermen indicate that they concentrate on clumps of conch to maximize y i e l d / u n i t time. There also appears to be a minimum LPUE below which they cannot be bothered to search for conch. The p r o b a b i l i t y of capture of each individual i s therefore not the same because e f f o r t i s d i s t r i b u t e d in r e l a t i o n to a population density gradient. LPUE may be more a r e f l e c t i o n of the a v a i l a b i l i t y of concentrations 128 of animals than the average density within a population. Another reason why the trend in LPUE may not be analogous to that in stock density is year-to-year v a r i a t i o n in the d i s t r i b u t i o n of f i s h i n g . In Belize, there may have been a s p a t i a l v a r i a t i o n in c a t c h a b i l i t y as the f l e e t gradually moved from the t r a d i t i o n a l f i s h i n g grounds in the north to the southern cayes where stocks were less depleted. The greater proportion of men diving in deeper water may also have helped the LPUE remain stable between 1978 and 1984. Changes over time in the amount of f i s h i n g power exerted during a man-day is an example of a temporal v a r i a t i o n in c a t c h a b i l i t y . Improvements in the gear's a b i l i t y to catch conch and changes in the search time/handling time index would both affect f i s h i n g power. During the f i r s t years of the commercial conch fishery, LPUE increased with e f f o r t . This i s a good indication that men were improving t h e i r s k i l l at locating conch populations and diving. With the exception of th i s learning factor, capture e f f i c i e n c y is thought to have remained the same over the period studied. The t r a n s i t i o n of hooking to skindiving occurred in the 1960's and there are very few accounts of SCUBA being used; therefore, one method of f i s h i n g i s believed to dominate the fishery. What has changed however, is the r e l a t i v e amount of time budgetted to each part of the catching process ( t r a v e l , search, gather and clean). Although t r i p fishermen s t i l l work roughly seven hours per day, the actual number of hours per day a diver operates underwater has increased. From 129 personal observations of handling time, i t i s estimated that fishermen landing 45.4 kg (100 lb) of conch per day in the past spent two hours c o l l e c t i n g the animals and f i v e hours cleaning them. In 1985, with the LPUE being closer to 13.6 kg/md (30 lb/md), i t took 5.5 hours to search for the animals and 1.5 hours to clean them. To quantify the variations in q noted above, better documentation of the time and area fished is needed. Suggested modifications to the existing data c o l l e c t i o n system in Belize are given at the end of Chapter Six. 5.5 Total Annual E f f o r t Man-days fished by the membership of each cooperative was predicted by dividing the cooperative's t o t a l production by the average value of LPUE for i t s top producers. This kind of LPUE estimate was used because these values were available for the longest time period. Annual e f f o r t was summed over the cooperatives and divided into the corresponding t o t a l landings to arrive at an average LPUE for the country (Table 5.3). Data were lacking for the years 1971, 1975, 1976 and 1985; hence, e f f o r t was calculated by div i d i n g t o t a l landings by an extrapolated value of LPUE. The estimates of t o t a l annual e f f o r t are presented in Table 5.6. There have been two periods of expansion in the conch fi s h e r y : an i n i t i a l period of development from 1968 to 1973, and a recent expansion in the fishery from 1980 to 1984 (Figure 5.9) Catch increased with e f f o r t during both these periods, but the Table 5.6 Estimated t o t a l annual e f f o r t FISCAL AVERAGE TOTAL TOTAL YEAR LPUE LANDINGS EFFORT (kg/md) (kg) (md) 1967 21.9 124939 5717.2 1968 32.4 142036 4381.7 1969 45.5 248820 5466.6 1970 46.5 288690 6201.5 1971 42.6* 448302 10514.1* 1972 38.7 517073 13352.2 1973 36.2 508672 14039.9 1974 23.6 393015 16664.5 1975 21.8* 417229 19162.9* 1976 20.0* 351117 17592.5* 1977 18.2 270382 14854.9 1978 14.8 208348 14042.7 1979 16.1 226474 14078.6 1980 15.3 128315 8396.1 1981 14.6 169449 11620.2 1982 15.5 163438 10561.4 1983 14.2 201907 14186.3 1984 14.7 225247 15331.2 1985 10.8* 164239 15207.3 1986 6.9 110232 15975.7 '*' s u b s t i t u t e d v a l u e s based on e x t r a p o l a t i o n Note: Values of LPUE used i n the e s t i m a t i o n of e f f o r t rounded t o one decimal p o i n t i n column 2 above. 1970 1975 1980 1985 YEAR (Fiscal) Figure 5.9 Estimated t o t a l annual landings and e f f o r t , and average LPUE (1967-1986). Data presented 1n Table 5.6. 132 r e l a t i v e increase in landings was much greater in the early stages of the fishery because larger stocks were being exploited (Figure 5.10). Landings in 1983 t o t a l l e d 201,852 kg; t h i s is roughly 40% of what was landed in 1973 for the same amount of e f f o r t . LPUE remained stable with the increase in e f f o r t in the 1980's u n t i l 1984 and then declined. The potential for e f f o r t to expand given the current number of fishermen and season length is great. Each member at National spent an average of 37 of a possible 102 days f i s h i n g conch in 1984: AVE. NUMBER OF DAYS FISHED FOR CONCH PER MAN-YEAR* F i s c a l Total No. of members Ave. MDF/member Year E f f o r t (MDF) del i v e r i n g conch 1978 4,212 114 36.9 1979 5,207 102 50.1 1980 2,755 90 30.6 1981 3,576 120 29.8 1982 3,983 155 25.7 1983 6,735 214 31.5 1984 8,841 241 36.7 * Total e f f o r t for National/number of men de l i v e r i n g conch. The s i g n i f i c a n c e of t h i s latent e f f o r t is discussed in the following section. 5.6 Synopsis of the Conch Fishery's Development The conch fishery has passed through four phases in i t s development over the l a s t 20 years. The f i r s t s i g n i f i c a n t increase in conch production occurred in 1967. By t h i s time a l l f i v e cooperatives were in operation and overseas markets were established for conch. Conch were abundant, easy to catch and 133 1969/^"" "~*«*^1971 o (kg/md) o cn \^973 LPUE o cu 1967\ 1980 fc 1982 1 9 7 1 ^ - -V -t 1984 - - ^ . 1 9 7 5 , 1966 1—J 50 100 150 200 E f f o r t (man-daya/100) 100 150 200 E f f o r t (man-daya/100) F i g u r e 5.10 Landings and LPUE as a f u n c t i o n of e f f o r t . 134 had the highest dockside price next to lobster. E f f o r t was low for the f i r s t four years of t h i s phase but as skindivers turned th e i r attention to conch and became more e f f i c i e n t at locating the conch beds and pinpointing the most productive ones, LPUE rose rapidly and so did catch. By 1971, i t was apparent that money could be made from the resource and e f f o r t jumped markedly. Production by National, Placencia and Sarteneja t h i s year was double what i t was the year before. Divers would switch to f i s h i n g conch whenever lobster was d i f f i c u l t to f i n d . Though not obvious from LPUE due to changes in c a t c h a b i l i t y , conch abundance probably declined during t h i s phase. However, as the removals were r e l a t i v e l y small, i t is doubtful they had an ef f e c t on the stock. The second phase i d e n t i f i e d in the fishery's development extends from 1971 to 1975. During this period, e f f o r t continued to increase as divers entered the fishery. National was already well established in the fishery and the number of i t s members landing conch remained the stable. Sarteneja and Placencia, on the otherhand, showed the most s i g n i f i c a n t growth over these years. Caribena's peak conch production occurred in 1973, Sarteneja's in 1974 and Placencia's in 1975 (Appendix VI). As the conch fishery expanded, lobster production by a l l cooperatives, except Northern, remained r e l a t i v e l y stable. This supports the hypothesis that mainly divers, as opposed to lobster trap fishermen, were entering the f i s h i n g industry at t h i s time and most were targetting on conch. 135 It was during the second phase that the fishery began to take i t s t o l l on the conch stock. Landings continued to climb with the increase in e f f o r t but at less than proportionate rate of increase. The average size of individuals in the stock was s h i f t i n g with a reduction in the reserves of adults. A decrease in both number of conch and average weight per individual explaining the dramatic decline in LPUE in 1974. LPUE decreased from an estimated 45.4 kg/md (100 lb/md) in 1971 to approximately 22.7 kg/md (50 lb/md) in 1975. The f l e e t moved into the more distant southern waters in search for the la s t of the v i r g i n conch beds around the mid-1970's (FAB Meeting, 1973). During the t h i r d phase of the fishery from 1976 to 1980, LPUE was s t i l l dropping but at a much slower rate than in previous years. Despite a decline in e f f o r t , catch was s t i l l high and i t seems more individuals were taken than the stock could produce; the result being a net reduction in stock s i z e . The rate of decline in landings was increased by a reduction in e f f o r t . Even though the number of fishermen d e l i v e r i n g conch remained the same, man-days fished for conch decreased. The reduction in time spent f i s h i n g conch was related to a combination of factors. In 1974, more fishermen began to deliver f i s h as well as lobster and conch which meant that fewer t r i p s were made for conch only. Closing the conch fishery for three months in 1978 further reduced the time they would spend f i s h i n g . Although the shorter season had l i t t l e e f f e c t on the e f f o r t i n i t i a l l y , i t may have been p a r t l y responsible for the drop in number of conch fishermen between 1978 and 1980. 136 F i n a l l y , t h e p r i c e of l o b s t e r was f a r above t h a t f o r conch. In 1980, the d o c k s i d e p r i c e f o r conch was $5.49 BZ/kg ($2.49 BZ/lb) w h i l e t h a t f o r l o b s t e r was $23.15 BZ/kg ($10.50 B Z / l b ) . T o g e t h e r , the h i g h p r i c e of l o b s t e r , a l t e r n a t i v e o p p o r t u n i t i e s i n the s c a l e f i s h i n d u s t r y and d e c r e a s e i n abundance of conch were s h i f t i n g f i s h i n g e f f o r t away from conch. With the economic r e t u r n p e r u n i t of e f f o r t h i g h e r f o r o t h e r s p e c i e s , i t was not worth i t t o f i s h e r m e n t o d i v e f o r conch on a r e g u l a r b a s i s . S e a s o n a l m o b i l i t y from one s p e c i e s t o another became a more e c o n o m i c a l l y e f f i c i e n t s t r a t e g y . F o l l o w i n g t h e r e d u c t i o n i n e f f o r t i n t h e l a t e 1970's, s t a b i l i t y i n s t o c k s i z e r e t u r n e d . The a d u l t r e s e r v e s are gone, but t h e f a c t t h a t LPUE remained unchanged from 1978 t o 1984 s u g g e s t s t h a t i t may be p o s s i b l e t o s u s t a i n t h e s t o c k a t a lower l e v e l . T h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , of c o u r s e , i s s u b j e c t t o t h e c o n d i t i o n t h a t c a t c h r a t e s a d e q u a t e l y r e f l e c t S. g i g a s abundance. D u r i n g the f o u r t h phase i n the 1980's, p r o d u c t i o n and e f f o r t i n c r e a s e d s t e a d i l y w i t h a boom i n t h e number of f i s h e r m e n i n B e l i z e . I n t e r e s t i n conch changed l i t t l e s i n c e 1978. Both t h e p e r c e n t a g e of a c t i v e f i s h e r m e n d e l i v e r i n g conch and t h e average number of days f i s h e d p e r man-year remained t h e same. However, l i c e n s e d f i s h e r m e n d e l i v e r i n g conch are e s t i m a t e d t o have i n c r e a s e d by 56% between t h e y e a r s of 1980 and 1984 from 658 t o 1028. E f f o r t i n 1984 was o n l y 20% l e s s than t h e a l l t i m e h i g h of 1975. Data a r e l i m i t e d f o r the y e a r s 1985 and 1986, but i t appears t h a t e f f o r t remained h i g h from 1984 t h r o u g h 1986 and the 137 decrease in conch landings from 225,247 kg in 1984 to 110,232 kg in 1986 was due to a drop in LPUE. There are two probable explanations for the recent decline in LPUE assuming that LPUE adequately r e f l e c t s conch abundance; namely, variable recruitment and growth overfishing. With the reserves of older animals gone, there is a higher proportion of newly recruited animals in the catch and differences in year class strength w i l l be more noticeable. Growth overfishing may also have occurred in some f i s h i n g grounds as a result of the removal of animals with less than the legal meat weight and increases in fi s h i n g mortality rate due to growth in the industry. These trends in LPUE and f i s h i n g e f f o r t , coupled with the facts that: 1) the mean age of f i r s t capture (2.2 yr) is less than that for reproduction (4.0 yr) and 2) there i s potential for f i s h i n g e f f o r t to increase suddenly with changes in the price and abundance of conch r e l a t i v e to lobster and scale f i s h , raise concerns regarding the p o s s i b i l i t y of recruitment overfishing. Precautions which may reduce the chances of recruitment overfishing are discussed in the following chapter. 138 CHAPTER SIX Management 6.1 H i s t o r i c a l Overview Progress towards management of the conch fishery in Belize was slow. The fishery was well established by 1967 but management was not enacted u n t i l 1977. The f i r s t management measures were contemplated around 1970 and included a quota and minimum s i z e l i m i t (Baird, 1971). Though accurate projections as to the l e v e l of a quota could not be made, the Fisheries Department re a l i z e d that even an ar b i t r a r y quota could y i e l d results on which future planning of regulations could be based, or at least, lessen the chances of overexploitation. If the quota was set low enough to l i m i t the extent of commercial exploitation and recruitment was reasonably constant, a decrease in the e f f o r t needed to attain the quota over the years would indicate that abundance was increasing. The uncertainty generated by variable recruitment was recognized and a continual survey of sizes of conch landed, recommended. A minimum siz e l i m i t was proposed to control exploitation u n t i l more information could be gathered through the quota system. A marketed-meat weight r e s t r i c t i o n of 57.0 gm (2.0 oz) was suggested i n i t i a l l y but as more became known of the growth and mortality rates of Strombus gigas, t h i s value was increased. 139 In 1973, the Minister responsible for f i s h e r i e s accepted a proposal for a landings quota of 294,840 kg/annum (650,000 lb/annum) (Baird, 1973). This amount was equivalent to 80% of the average for annual landings in the previous three years. A decision on how the quota was to be allocated among the fi s h i n g cooperatives was also made but the regulation was not implemented. It appears that management objectives at t h i s time were more in favor of maintaining employment than preserving the resource (Robertson, 1975). The cooperatives lobbied strongly against harvest r e s t r i c t i o n s as they believed that e f f o r t s to conserve the resource would be f u t i l e as long as conch were being removed by foreigners and poachers in the interim (FAB Meeting, 16 May 1973). They argued that the stock could endure the rate of f i s h i n g being exerted at the time based on the fact that production was increasing with e f f o r t and the assumption that the recruitment from reserves of adults in water too deep for divers to access, was l i k e l y replenishing the shallow water portion of the stock. It was not u n t i l 1975, aft e r harvest had declined that management objectives were changed and more stringent measures to protect the conch stock were adopted (FAB Meeting, 11 Aug. 1975). The t h i r d management option to be proposed for conch - a closed season - originated at t h i s time. The rationale for this measure centered on the b e l i e f that conch exhibit a seasonal breeding migration (Robertson, 1975). As explained by the Fis h e r i e s Department, a closed season would allow conch to 140 congregate for mating in an undisturbed environment and allow a rest, and recovery period during which the smaller individuals would have a chance to grow (Mitchell, 1976). An agreement for a closed season from July 15 to October 15 was reached during a Fishery Advisory Board meeting on September 8, 1975 (Synder, 1976). However, as with the quota system, t h i s regulatory measure was not made law u n t i l 1977; a size l i m i t was introduced the following year. Current regulations are described in the next section. In the la s t 10 years, the system of management in Belize has improved. Goals for f i s h e r i e s development are outlined in a national plan and a network of committees advises the Minister on relevant matters. A legal framework for management has been developed and though improvements are s t i l l needed in enforcement, there has been progress in thi s area as well. 6.2 Existi n g Management System 6.2.1 Management objectives Detailed documentation of the objectives of management on a fishery basis i s seldom available for small-scale f i s h e r i e s (Proude, 1973; Emmerson, 1980; Panayotou, 1982). There i s often a v a r i e t y of fishery management objectives and c o n f l i c t s among them. If there i s no plan i d e n t i f y i n g which objective is considered most important, i t is d i f f i c u l t to evaluate alternative management approaches (Alverson and Paulik, 1973; 141 Roedel, 1975; Everett, 1983). Belize's National Fisheries Development Plan i d e n t i f i e s optimum sustainable y i e l d (OSY) as the goal of f i s h e r i e s management, but i t is not stipulated which of the objectives underlying t h i s goal takes p r i o r i t y in the management of the conch fishery. The general objectives are ( M i l l e r , 1978; BFCA, 1985b & 1985c): 1) Rationally u t i l i z e resources so to ensure continuation of the stocks. 2) Ensure maximum returns to the industry through e f f i c i e n t harvesting, and u t i l i z a t i o n and marketing of f i s h products; and 3) D i v e r s i f y f i s h e r i e s so to ensure future s t a b i l i t y in the industry and maintain employment opportunities for f ishermen. Based on interviews with government and industry o f f i c i a l s , the primary interest of managers overseeing the conch fishery seems to be maintaining the stock at i t s most productive l e v e l . Maintaining the best average gross y i e l d w i l l subsequently lead to the other benefits sought from the resource including the increases in exports, employment and the amount of food available l o c a l l y . Though admirable, t h i s objective is s t i l l not well defined for i t i s not known what le v e l is most productive. It might be more appropriate to state the objective as one of maximizing y i e l d from a fluctuating abundance. 6 . 2 . 2 Management authorities In Belize, a r e l a t i v e l y sophisticated i n s t i t u t i o n a l framework has evolved to govern f i s h e r i e s development and management. The primary e n t i t i e s overseeing management include: the Fisheries Department, the Cooperatives and Credit Unions 142 Department, the Belize Fishermen Cooperative Association and the Fishery Advisory Board. The Department of Fisheries originated in 1965 and is presently under the Ministry of Agriculture. Its operations are centered in Belize C i t y and i t s s t a f f numbers 12. The Department's main a c t i v i t i e s include: 1) Fisheries extension services providing s o c i a l and organizational assistance to fishermen; 2) Research on commercial species; 3) Quality control of f i s h products and marketing programs for f i s h e r i e s development; 4) C o l l e c t i o n of s t a t i s t i c s ; 5) Licensing; and 6) Enforcement. The Cooperatives and Credit Unions Department was established in 1953 and is involved in the development of the fi s h i n g industry to the extent that i t gives managerial assistance to the fi s h i n g cooperatives. In general, i t i s charged with the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of "promoting, organizing, registering, supervising and dissolving cooperative s o c i e t i e s " (Cooperatives and Credit Unions Department, 1980). The cooperatives compliance with the Fisheries Ordinance is fundamental to the management system. Their maintenance of accurate records on sales and purchases, and respect for f i s h e r i e s regulations are essential for management. Annual General Meetings hosted by the cooperatives further a s s i s t management e f f o r t s by providing a forum for general discussion. Fishermen and industry representatives brought together for these meetings have an opportunity to consult on issues related to f i s h e r i e s . F i n a l l y , cooperatives maintain a high q u a l i t y of seafood to meet the standards of the U.S. Food and Drug 143 Administration and companies purchasing the products. This is an assistance to the Fisheries Department which is too under-staf f e d to oversee quality control on i t s own. Fishing cooperatives are represented by the Belize Fishermen Cooperative Association (BFCA), an organization in existence since 1970. Its e f f o r t s in the past have been concentrated in four areas (BFCA, 1983b): "... 1) Fostering, strengthening and maintaining closer cooperation among the cooperatives; 2) Providing information to member soc i e t i e s pertaining to anything that affected the industry e s p e c i a l l y e f f o r t s that threatened the protected interest of the producers and t h e i r relat.ive control over the commercial fishery; 3) Keeping watch over the f i s h e r i e s ' laws and regulations and influencing changes for the protection and preservation of the industry; and 4) A s s i s t i n g the cooperatives in areas that would enhance th e i r productivity and v i a b i l i t y . " The BFCA was administered by one man u n t i l i t joined forces with the Ministry of Cooperatives and CARE to work on a f i s h e r i e s management tra i n i n g and resource development project in 1984 (BFCA, 1984b; Government of Belize, 1984b). It subsequently acquired i t s own o f f i c e with a f u l l - t i m e Executive Secretary. It now publishes a quarterly newsletter on current issues in the f i s h i n g industry and hosts various seminars for cooperative directors and educational programs for fishermen. As a spokesman for i t s member so c i e t i e s on the Fishery Advisory Board, BFCA plays an active role in f i s h e r i e s management. A Fishery Advisory Board (FAB) was created in 1965. It i s responsible for providing advice to the Minister in r e l a t i o n to the organization, improvement, management and continued 144 development of the f i s h i n g industry (Government of Belize, nd.). The FAB i s e s s e n t i a l l y the decision-making component of the f i s h e r i e s management system. It oversees the formulation of National Fisheries Development Plans, amendments to the laws and regulations governing the industry, and proposals for various types of business ventures concerning f i s h e r i e s . Ten members are appointed to the board by the Minister responsible for f i s h e r i e s . They generally include the Fisheries Administrator, the Registrar of Cooperatives, representatives of the BFCA, Belize Defense Force, and the Police department, and members of the business community. 6.2.3 Current Regulations Several d i f f e r e n t regulatory measures have been taken by the Government of Belize to control the harvest of conch. The present ordinance reads as follows: "No person s h a l l take in the waters of Belize or buy, s e l l or have in his possession -(a) any conch between the 1st day of July and the 30th day of September, inclusive, in any year; (b) at any time, conch the o v e r a l l s h e l l length of which does not exceed 7 inches or the weight of the market clean conch taken from which does not exceed 3 ounces." Source: Belize Statutory Instrument No. 66 of 1977, Fisheries Regulations, 1977 and Belize Statutory Instrument No. 71 of 1978, Fisheries (Amendment) Regulations, 1978, (Government of Belize, 1977 & 1978). Conch exports per year are limited to 295,029 kg (650,000 lb) of marketed-meats. Licensing of commercial fishermen and boats is mandatory and SCUBA i s prohibited for commercial harvesting. 145 These l a s t two measures were imposed in the mid-1960's with the establishment of the lobster management system. A l e g i s l a t i o n passed in 1982 which gives the Ministry responsible for Fisheries power to declare marine reserves, presents new opportunities for conch management (Government of Belize, 1982b). A series of discussions aimed at investigating t h i s avenue and new conch management regulations such as prohibiting the harvest of non-lipped animals were recently i n i t i a t e d by the Fisheries Department (The Beacon, 1987). A l l options are discussed in more d e t a i l in section 6.3. Upon comparing regulatory measures used in Belize and other countries in the Caribbean, i t becomes evident that many countries have no r e s t r i c t i o n s at a l l on harvesting S. gigas (Brownell and Stevely, 1981; Wells et a l . , 1983; Shusterich, 1984; Dubois, 1985; Berg and Olsen, in press). Those that do, imposed t h e i r controls on f i s h i n g only after stocks began to exhibit signs of overfishing. The Bahamas is the only country known to have established a conch management program before 1970. In the Turks and Caicos Islands, as in Belize, licenses are mandatory, a size l i m i t i s imposed and SCUBA i s prohibited (Nardi, 1982). Venezuela and Bonaire have also established a li c e n s i n g system. Countries known to have a closed season other than Belize include Cuba (March through September), Venezuela (December through A p r i l ) and H a i t i . Area closures are u t i l i z e d by Columbia (Moncaleano A., 1978) and Bonaire. Fishery quotas have been set in Belize, Cuba and Mexico. Since 1971, F l o r i d a has imposed a d a i l y catch quota (10 conch/person) and is 146 considering a size l i m i t of 22.5 cm which, i t is estimated, w i l l protect 50% of the f l a r e d lipped population and 90% of the juveniles (Hunt, in press). The Government of Mexico is also investigating the p o s s i b i l i t y of a minimum size l i m i t of 20 cm, as well as a closed season (Torre Alegria, 1984). To insure maximum l o c a l u t i l i z a t i o n of the resource, export of Bahamian conch meat i s prohibited and licenses are granted for export of processed products. More stringent management measures (eg. moratoriums) have been taken in Venezuela, Bonaire, Cuba and Columbia. In Bermuda, Strombus qiqas i s a protected species. The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States i s presently examining a proposal to coordinate regulations for conch among the Lesser A n t i l l e s Region (OECS, 1983). The regulations proposed include r e s t r i c t i o n s on the harvest of conch which do not have a s h e l l with a broad, thickened f l a r e d l i p , a marketed-meat greater than 225 gm (8 oz), or a s h e l l greater than 18 cm (7 inches) in length. The use of SCUBA for commercial c o l l e c t i o n would not be allowed and a closed season would be implemented to span the longest recorded breeding season (March to October). It is also recommended that the harvest of egg-laying females or copulating pairs be prohibited at a l l times and that closed areas, eg. breeding s i t e s and/or over-exploited f i s h i n g grounds, be promoted (K. Nichols, pers. comm., 1986). 147 6.2.4 Enforcement At present, Belize severely lacks the human and f i n a n c i a l resources to establish a surveillance and enforcement system. The legal framework for f i s h e r i e s management exists in Belize but the Fisheries Department has no law enforcement d i v i s i o n . Violators of the Fisheries Ordinance are prosecuted by the Fisheries Administrator personally in his o f f i c i a l capacity. There is only one Fisheries Inspector on s t a f f . He is assisted by one or two Fisheries O f f i c e r s and i s in charge of conducting spot checks at the cooperatives, l o c a l markets and eating establishments to ensure no undersize and/or out of season f i s h products are being sold. The Department r e l i e s on the assistance of the Belize Defense Force arid the Police Department for the i r surveillance at sea. A preliminary study on f i s h e r i e s surveillance in Belize was conducted by the Overseas Development Administration (ODA) in October of 1981. An integrated a i r and sea surveillance system was subsequently recommended and i t s cost was estimated at $1.15 m BZ (FAB Meeting, 2 Oct. 1981). This amount would cover the cost of high speed patrol c r a f t s , VHF radios, cameras and armament, the rental of a plane and training of special personnel. It is impossible for Belize to finance such an operation at t h i s time. As a re s u l t , the managers have had to rel y on existing systems as described below. The Fisheries Department has taken several approaches to improve the enforcement s i t u a t i o n in Belize. The f i r s t was to 148 work in collaboration with other law enforcement di v i s i o n s of the government. The Police Department acquired three patrol boats in 1982, and the Marine Arm of the Belize Defense Force received patrol boats and an a i r c r a f t in mid-1984. The Fisheries Department has made arrangements to use these vessels for f i s h e r i e s surveillance by having Fisheries O f f i c e r s taken on p a t r o l . Another approach was to appoint members of the cooperatives' management committees as f i s h e r i e s o f f i c e r s (BFCA, 1984b). This option was proposed by the BFCA and incorporated into the Fisheries Ordinance in 1982. The fishermen's assistance in p o l i c i n g regulations could be very valuable but the success of the program depends on the fishermen's willingness to reprimand a fellow fishermen. Belize is a small country and the community of fishermen is t i g h t l y knit. It i s not unlikely a Fisheries O f f i c e r w i l l encounter friends or family members fi s h i n g i l l e g a l l y . If the law is upheld, animosity among fishermen i s inevitable and t h i s may generate problems of another kind. A less d i r e c t approach to c u r t a i l i n g i l l e g a l f i s h i n g has been to impose s t r i c t e r penalties for those convicted for contraventions of the f i s h e r i e s laws. Penalties included any one or a combination of, a j a i l sentence, fi n e , or confiscation of the fisherman's catch, gear or boat. The vigi l a n c e and understanding of fishermen, as exemplified by the success of the lobster management system, is the key factor in the effectiveness of regulations in Belize. Recognizing t h i s and hopeful of i n s t i l l i n g an awareness among fishermen of the necessity and benefits of conservation 149 p o l i c i e s , the Fisheries Department and the BFCA have organized a number of education programs. Given the cooperative s p i r i t observed in fishermen and limited resources available for enforcement, the author believes t h i s i s an avenue which has potential and should be pursued. 6.3 Management Options There are several factors to consider in the evaluation of management options for the queen conch fishery in B e l i z e . The main ones include the following: 1) The desired harvest strategy; 2) How certain one is of stock abundance, expected e f f o r t and c a t c h a b i l i t y ; 3) Consequences of not achieving the target catch for a p a r t i c u l a r strategy; 4) Characteristics of the species' biology; 5) How the fishery operates; and 6) The information requirements and costs of implementing each option. A l l these factors work s y n e r g i s t i c a l l y . It is d i f f i c u l t to know how the system works as a whole, which variables are most important and what the consequences of managing under uncertainty are without building a s e n s i t i v i t y model (Hilborn, 1986). However, before one can venture to that l e v e l of analysis, the variables of the model need to be i d e n t i f i e d and the accuracy with which they are l i k e l y to be estimated assessed. This is the stage managers are at with the conch fishery in B e l i z e . In t h i s study, a preliminary evaluation of management options is conducted. Since the management objectives of 150 managers in Belize are not s p e c i f i c a l l y stated, three possible types of harvest strategies are considered: constant catch, fix e d escapement and constant harvest rate. The l i k e l y outcome of six options that may be used to implement these strategies are predicted; some of the options presented are already in use in Belize. Requirements for implementing the d i f f e r e n t controls and the effects they are l i k e l y to have on the industry are also discussed. 6.3.1 Effectiveness of options in meeting harvest strategies 6.3.1.1 Quota The quota system used in Belize applies to the fishery as a whole; there is no a l l o c a t i o n among individual fishermen. Because there is only a limited internal market for conch, the quota was designed to l i m i t of the quantity permitted for export which i s far easier to monitor. The quota was implemented o r i g i n a l l y as a preemptive quota (Sissenwine and Kirkley, 1982). There i s no evidence that i t was used s p e c i f i c a l l y to keep the stocks at a l e v e l that would maximize sustainable y i e l d . Exports by cooperatives from 1978 through 1986 averaged about 166,112 kg which i s notably lower than the c e i l i n g of 295,029 kg (650,000 l b ) . If the quota in Belize was used to reduce fluctuations in annual catch, i t would have to be lowered. This option would provide s t a b i l i t y in the income of fishermen and make i t easier for cooperatives to plan t h e i r operations. However, i t would not 151 stop an increase in the s i z e of the f l e e t or changes in fi s h i n g methods. There would s t i l l be the danger of o v e r c a p i t a l i z a t i o n . It i s also questionable whether a lower quota would allow adequate escapement. Predicting the l e v e l of a quota with l i t t l e knowledge of stock si z e , is a high r i s k to take. If the quota is based on an overestimate of stock s i z e , y i e l d w i l l be lost the current year due to growth overfishing and possibly in the future due to recruitment overfishing. If stock size is underestimated, not a l l the allowable y i e l d w i l l be taken and future recruitment may also be affected i f the stock/recruitment relationship abides by the Ricker (1975) model. Costs of underestimating optimum y i e l d w i l l also be influenced by the natural mortality rate (M). If M i s low, benefits lost one year can be regained the following year. This is less l i k e l y to be the case i f M i s high. 6.3.1.2 Closed season A closed season was imposed on the conch fishery of Belize for b i o l o g i c a l reasons; economic concerns, eg., maintaining product q u a l i t y or a l l o c a t i n g e f f o r t between user groups, were not an issue. The aim of the closure from July through September was to protect conch during t h e i r seasonal breeding migration and to allow further growth of smaller individuals. This rationale i s based on the understanding that: 1) t h i s period coincides with the height of the breeding season, 2) conch are more vulnerable during t h e i r breeding season because they migrate into shallow water and cluster to mate, and 3) conch go 152 through a rapid increase in growth and weight just p r i o r to reaching the minimum legal l i m i t . In the i r studies on the reproductive cycles of conch in Belize, Blakesley (1977) and Egan (1985) found that conch are capable of breeding year round. They did not however, indicate at what time of year spawning was more intense. Therefore, an addition assumption has been made, i. e . , that conch in Belize, l i k e those elsewhere in the Caribbean, spawn more frequently during the warmer months of the year. A season closure would give juveniles extra time to grow, but a well enforced size r e s t r i c t i o n would be a more e f f e c t i v e means of ensuring the cohort i s harvested at the appropriate age to maximize y i e l d . Hilborn (1986) notes that r e s t r i c t i n g the time allowed for fi s h i n g v i a season closures may be a preferred option for invertebrate f i s h e r i e s i f fixed escapement strategy is desired and there is uncertainty regarding stock s i z e . With a fixed season, one would expect the harvest rate to r i s e with stock abundance i f e f f o r t can be increased by either f i s h i n g when fi s h i n g is good, or by the entry of fishermen from outside areas. A l t e r n a t i v e l y , at low stock densities harvest rate declines and escapement improves. The numerical response of fishermen i s strong in Belize with the a v a i l a b i l i t y of alternate species. Fishermen are apt to switch to another commodity when the economic return per unit of e f f o r t received for conch decreases r e l a t i v e to other species, and hence, one might expect escapement to improve at low stock 153 densi t i e s . This is an advantage as long as what remains after fishermen switch off is s u f f i c i e n t to sustain the stock. The s t a b i l i t y observed in LPUE between 1978 and 1984 tends to suggest that the average harvest rate reached by the fishery during t h i s time was within optimal l e v e l s . However, the drop in LPUE in recent years indicates that the season length is too long for the number of participants in the fishery. It allows the harvest rate to increase with stock si z e at too great a rate. The season could be shortened but as long as there is unlimited entry, r e s t r i c t i n g the time allowed for f i s h i n g w i l l be an i n e f f e c t i v e means of c o n t r o l l i n g e f f o r t in the long term. Extending the closed season w i l l be useful primarily in providing the fishery managers with extra time to develop more ef f e c t i v e management schemes. Increasing the duration of the closed season to include October would be the easiest way to lower the upper l i m i t the season length imposes on f i s h i n g e f f o r t . October is the one month when fishermen are not esp e c i a l l y keen on f i s h i n g another commodity or busy with other community or f i s h i n g a c t i v i t i e s . The opening of the lobster season in July deters most fishermen from diving conch despite the closed season. The fishermen's interest in conch is also less during the rough weather months, when snapper and grouper are spawning, around Easter and Christmas, and when men haul t h e i r boats for repairs in an t i c i p a t i o n for the lobster season. It is better to extend the season into October than June because fishermen have cash on hand then; in June, fishermen are low on funds and re l y on conch 154 as a source of income u n t i l the lobster season reopens. 6.3.1.3 Limiting entry Theoretically, a l i m i t a t i o n of the number of fishermen would be the most e f f e c t i v e means of c o n t r o l l i n g the harvest rate. With e f f o r t r e s t r i c t e d at a certain l e v e l , catch would increase with stock size at a constant rate. This option is optimal i f YPR is to be maximized; however, i t w i l l not stop fishermen from f i s h i n g at low stock sizes which may be a problem i f recruitment overfishing i s a concern. S t i l l , t h i s option is a safer approach than a quota given the uncertainty with which stock s i z e i s l i k e l y to be estimated. With a quota, the harvest rate w i l l increase as abundance declines. At the other extreme, i . e . , high stock s i z e s , l i m i t i n g e f f o r t may i n h i b i t the removal of the stock's t o t a l surplus production. At present, e f f o r t is free to expand during the season to take advantage of what is available. Though l i m i t i n g entry may in theory be an e f f e c t i v e management option, i t is not thought to be p o l i t i c a l l y acceptable in Belize nor p r a c t i c a l l y applicable to enforce. Limiting the number of fishermen to those currently in the conch fis h e r y would be d i f f i c u l t . It i s most l i k e l y that a l l licensed fishermen w i l l claim they have some sort of investment (eg., f i n a n c i a l ) in the fishery, and therefore, have the right to be issued a license to dive conch. Even i f access could be limited to the estimated 62% of divers presently de l i v e r i n g conch, there 155 may s t i l l be too many people in the fishery. It w i l l depend on the pot e n t i a l e f f o r t part-time fishermen are capable of exerting should they decide to f i s h conch f u l l - t i m e . 6.3.1.4 Gear r e s t r i c t i o n The rationale for banning the use of SCUBA for commercial fi s h i n g in Belize was to reduce the f i s h i n g mortality rate, p a r t i c u l a r l y that on lobster. However, c o n t r o l l i n g the e f f i c i e n c y of harvest did not prevent more divers from entering the fishery and e f f o r t from increasing. Though prohibiting SCUBA does l i t t l e to keep the harvest rate or catch constant, i t does succeed in protecting the deep water reserves of conch. If these populations are proven to be the main source of new r e c r u i t s , t h i s option w i l l be of p a r t i c u l a r value in preserving the spawning stock. 6.3.1.5 Size l i m i t s Size l i m i t s control the age of entry of animals into the fishery. The rationale for using t h i s measure in Belize was to protect premature conch so that they may grow to an economical size and increase the proportion of individuals of each cohort that survive to spawn. As with the gear r e s t r i c t i o n , t h i s option modifies the harvest capacity of each vessel and i s an indirect means of meeting the harvest strategies considered here. In Belize, the minimum allowable s h e l l length for conch . is 156 seven inches (17.8 cm) and the minimum marketed-meat weight is three ounces (85.1 gm). Based on the weight-length regressions obtained in this study, these measurements do not equate to an individual of equal s i z e . The s h e l l length corresponding to the minimum meat weight is 20.3 cm not 17.8 cm. Increasing the length l i m i t and s t r i c t enforcement of the current weight regulation would s h i f t the average time of f i r s t capture ( t c ) from i t s current estimated position of 2.2 years to 3.0 years, but t h i s is s t i l l lower than the predicted optimum tc of 3.5 years. The s i z e of capture at which YPR is the highest for the f i s h i n g mortality rate estimated for Belize (F=0.6) is 21.7 cm. To maximize YPR, i t i s estimated that the meat siz e l i m i t would have to be increased to 113.0 gm (4 oz). It i s noted however, that the increase in YPR with increase in tc i s minimal after 3.0 years. Meats less than four ounces comprised 23% of the landings (by weight) sampled at the cooperatives in 1985. An increase in the minimum allowable s i z e would therefore, decrease y i e l d s i g n i f i c a n t l y in the short term. It would take s i x months for animals weighing 85.1 gm to reach 113.0 gm, thereafter, YPR would be increased by an estimated 12% (F=0.6;M=0.1). Improving enforcement of the present meat weight regulation would increase YPR by 11% with only an 11% loss in weight of animals landed. This option would therefore have a smaller impact on fishermen economically. Trying to obtain the best y i e l d from a cohort i s an 157 adequate management strategy i f recruitment in the species fluctuates independently of stock s i z e . If the stock-recruit (S/R) relationship on the other hand is strong, basing a size l i m i t on a YPR analysis may not be a good approach because i t does not take recruitment, the co n t r o l l i n g variable, into account. Fishing mortality rates and siz e l i m i t s that give high YPR might result in low egg production. For instance, i f adult mortality rate is low and fecundity in large individuals high, the r e l a t i v e reproductive value of old, large adults would be great; t h e i r removal would have a large impact on egg production. Hence, the consequence of assuming no S/R relationship exists, when in fact one does, could be severe. Even i f the S/R relationship is not known, i t is wise to conduct a fecundity-per-recruit analysis and compare the results with YPR calculations (Jamieson and Caddy, 1986). Building a model to examine production of eggs during the l i f e of the cohort requires knowledge of the species age-specific fecundity (Sluckanowski, 1986). Since there is no information on th i s topic for S. gigas, such an analysis could not be performed in t h i s study. Size r e s t r i c t i o n s based on length provide minimal protection of the reproductive capacity of conch stocks because length i s a poor indicator of maturity and there i s large v a r i a t i o n in size at age. It takes roughly one year after reaching maximum length to reach sexual maturity. In the Belize fis h e r y , there may be a span of up to two years from the time conch enter the fishery (tc=2.2 yr) to the time they are able to 1 5 8 reproduce at an estimated age of 4.0 yr. In regard to variance in terminal s i z e , adult conch in Belize range from 16.7 to 26.3 cm and females are generally larger than males. As a res u l t , s e l e c t i v e harvesting on the basis of s i z e may introduce a bias toward the removal of fast growing individuals and females may be fished more intensely than males. The only breeders protected by the current l i m i t are the dwarf form of S. qiqas, the Sambas. With time of capture set below the age of f i r s t reproduction, recruitment overfishing i s a concern and more conservative s i z e l i m i t s should be considered. Imposition of a regulation requiring a f u l l y developed l i p w i l l cause uniform random cropping of the breeding stock. However, enforcement w i l l be d i f f i c u l t as fishermen clean t h e i r catch at sea and given the wide range of adult s i z e s , there i s no way to i d e n t i f y lipped and nonlipped animals from marketed-meat weight alone. Fishermen w i l l have to delive r conch l i v e (which is feasible for day-men only) and then there w i l l be questions concerning the return of undersized individuals and disposal of the s h e l l s of lipped conch (the l a t t e r may be a problem for cooperatives based in Belize C i t y ) . Another option i s to raise the minimum allowable meat weight to correspond with the average weight of adults. The average weight of adults collected for morphometric studies in t h i s study was 120 gm (4.2 oz). Conch of d i f f e r e n t areas may vary in terminal s i z e , but a uniform s i z e l i m i t , as opposed to area s p e c i f i c size l i m i t s , would be easier to administer and 159 p o l i c e . Because the proportion of and there is l i t t l e information growth of t h i s dwarf form, I have how an increase in the size d i s t r i b u t i o n of the stock. sambas in the stock is unknown on the factors c o n t r o l l i n g the not addressed the question of l i m i t may change the size 6.3.1.6 Closed areas The s p a t i a l r e s t r i c t i o n of f i s h i n g a c t i v i t y i s another possible management alt e r n a t i v e . In 1982, the Minister responsible for f i s h e r i e s was authorized to declare any area within the fi s h i n g l i m i t s of Belize, a marine reserve. The rationale for closing an area as stated in the Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1982 (Government of Belize, 1982b) i s to: *'... a) afford special protection to the aquatic f l o r a and fauna of such areas and to protect and preserve the natural breeding grounds and habitats of aquatic l i f e ; b) allow for the natural regeneration of aquatic l i f e in areas where such l i f e has been depleted; c) promote s c i e n t i f i c study and research in respect of such areas; or d) preserve and enhance the natural beauty of such areas." The f i r s t marine reserve (Hoi Chan) was designated in the f a l l of 1987; i t i s located on the main reef near the town of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. Creation of national marine reserves through the the National Park System Act of 1981 i s another avenue by which f i s h i n g may be r e s t r i c t e d . Half Moon Caye (Figure 1.1) is the only national park presently closed to f i s h i n g , but several others have been proposed (Deshler, 1978; BFCA, 1984c). 160 In regard to stock rejuvenation, large area closures would be a less costly alternative than closing nursery areas and individual breeding grounds. If the objective is to protect juveniles so they may reach the optimal s i z e for harvesting, a size r e s t r i c t i o n would be a more di r e c t approach. Closing breeding grounds to protect the brood stock w i l l require predicting exactly where S. qiqas spawn as well as when. A considerable amount of manpower would also be needed to guard the spawning grounds and/or c o l l e c t the adults and place them in designated protected areas. Closing the fishery during the breeding season as is currently done is easier l o g i s t i c a l l y . If blanket closures of overfished areas, eg., Half Moon Caye, are implemented to aid stock rejuvenation, f i s h i n g for a l l species in each area w i l l have to be r e s t r i c t e d unless enforcement practices are rigorous enough to include vessel hold inspections. This may lead to controversies i f other species are underfished. Decisions w i l l also have to be made on whether the closure should be on a short term basis or permanent basis. If ro t a t i o n a l area closures were used, other regulations, eg., size l i m i t s , w i l l s t i l l be needed to ensure the area is not overfished again. Long term closures may result in overstocking of sanctuaries and understocking of unprotected areas. 161 6.3.1.7 Economic measures There are a number of economic measures taken by the government which could p o t e n t i a l l y influence the fi s h i n g mortality rate exerted by the conch fishermen. These include the price control on the sale of conch in l o c a l markets, the tax on f i s h exports (5% ad valoreum) and the fees applied to f i s h i n g and boat licenses. Incentive and disincentive plans such as these are not evaluated in t h i s report due to a lack of economic data on the fishery. However, the purpose of a price control with the c e i l i n g price set much lower than that received by fishermen at dockside is questioned (refer to chapter four; section 4.2). Having the cooperatives subsidize l o c a l families with conch when thi s commodity fetches such a high price on foreign markets and can be exchanged for foods with greater n u t r i t i o n a l value per d o l l a r , seems i l l o g i c a l from an economic standpoint. 6.3.2 Information requirements, implementation and enforcement To accurately assess the l e v e l of a catch quota used to maximize y i e l d from a fl u c t u a t i n g abundance, researchers in Belize w i l l need to be able to predict maximum sustainable y i e l d and forecast incoming recruitment. Information on the size of the resource and the regulation based on i t , would have to be continually updated for the regulation to be f l e x i b l e enough to account for v a r i a b i l i t y in recruitment. Adjusting the regulation quickly enough to respond to the condition of resource w i l l be 162 p a r t i c u l a r l y important i f new r e c r u i t s constitute a major part of the catch and/or recruitment is highly variable. A quota on cooperative production would be administratively simple but establishing a network to monitor landings outside the cooperatives would be d i f f i c u l t as landings s i t e s are dispersed. An export quota would be easier to enforce than a r e s t r i c t i o n on t o t a l allowable catch but one cannot assume sales on the l o c a l markets are fixed. The problem of i l l e g a l exportation to neighbouring countries could escalate since enforcement at sea is limited. The best way to ensure the regulation i s e f f e c t i v e is to prohibit a l l conch f i s h i n g once a quota is met. To use the season closures to control harvest rate, managers must know the f i s h i n g mortality rate (F) they wish to target upon and the r e l a t i o n between F and e f f o r t . Prerequisite data needed to acquire t h i s information i s severely limited at present. Prohibiting cooperatives from processing during the closed season would be simple, but surveillance, either at sea or l o c a l markets, would s t i l l be needed. The least disruptive approaches to l i m i t i n g entry would be to: 1) r e s t r i c t licenses to fishermen already in the industry; 2) require that license holders be f u l l - t i m e fishermen; and/or 3) increase license fees. Managers in Belize would have to define the c r i t e r i a by which one c l a s s i f i e s a fisherman as a -full-time conch diver. It would be d i f f i c u l t to i d e n t i f y f u l l -163 time independent fishermen because there are no records of t h e i r landings. Requiring that a l l fishermen be members of cooperatives may simplify matters. Managers would also have to design a new licensing system because a d i f f e r e n t license would be needed for each species. Commercial fishermen are already required to have a v a l i d license on t h e i r person and the r e g i s t r a t i o n number of th e i r boat c l e a r l y marked. However, surveillance at sea w i l l s t i l l be complicated by the presence of unmarked cargo, passenger and sport-fishing boats. Implementing a regulation banning the use of SCUBA for commercial harvesting was easy larg e l y because few fishermen are interested in adopting th i s harvest technique. Diving with tanks is far more costly and dangerous than skindiving. There i s also the time consuming task of maintaining the equipment and r e f i l l i n g tanks. This lack of interest in SCUBA makes enforcement easier in one sense, but surveillance at sea is s t i l l necessary. To calculate the best minimum s i z e based on YPR and fecundity-per-recruit, better information is needed on the growth, mortality and fecundity of S. qiqas. Weight-length relations of conch in various populations throughout Belize should also be studied. As was demonstrated in Chapter Three, obtaining such data and estimating model parameters i s subject to many complications. Restrictions on meat weight would be easiest to implement since fishermen land cleaned conch. Prohibiting the harvest of non-lipped animals would be d i f f i c u l t 164 to enforce; managers w i l l have to rely largely on the vigilance and cooperation of fishermen. If managers anticipate having either the cooperation of fishermen or s u f f i c i e n t seaborne patrols to make closing an area a viable management alternative, they should consider: 1) which area(s) and how large an area to close, 2) the duration of the closure, and 3) what other species are in the area. Selecting an area on the basis of how easy i t w i l l be to patrol and dealing with the general problems of enforcement, eg., encroachment, are additional considerations. 6.3.3 Regulations from the industry's perspective There is no opposition of the quota from the industry at present because i t does not l i m i t exploitation. If i t did prohibit fishermen from taking conch, cooperatives would no longer be able to c a p i t a l i z e on increases in demand and prices. If the f i s h i n g season is shortened due to the desire of individual fishermen to catch as much as they can before the quota i s met, cooperatives may also experience problems in handling the product. In addition, fishermen may run into f i n a n c i a l d i f f i c u l t i e s i f they are not allowed to f i s h conch during the closed season for lobster because the quota for conch has already been f i l l e d . The closed season is not a new approach in Belize. Fishermen seem readily acceptant of t h i s measure as a means to 165 protect conch from overexploitation. This and the fact that the closure extension suggested i s for only one month and at a time of year (October) when fishermen are not p a r t i c u l a r l y short of cash may mean there w i l l be l i t t l e opposition. When deciding on an extension, fishery managers should take into consideration that e f f o r t on lobster and scale f i s h may increase and that the impact t h i s measure has on decreasing e f f o r t on conch is only known q u a l i t a t i v e l y . Accurate monitoring of e f f o r t i s a prerequisite for proper evaluation of this option. Further study is needed to determine how a change in the timing of a closed season would effect marketing of conch. Belize's largest competitor on the international markets (Turks and Caicos Isles) has no closed season at present. If the suggestions for l i m i t i n g entry presented in section 6.3.2 are considered, managers can anticipate controversy over the exclusion of part-time fishermen from the fishery and increases in the costs of f i s h i n g caused by ra i s i n g the license fee. Belizeans w i l l also have to change the i r perspective regarding the ownership of natural resources. Fisheries resources w i l l no longer be common property; some Belizeans w i l l be denied the opportunity to earn a l i v i n g from f i s h i n g conch. The government w i l l have to decide i f they can r e s t r i c t l icenses; i t may not be j u s t i f i e d in Belize as the need for employment is great. Though the ban on SCUBA reduces the capture e f f i c i e n c y of the harvester, there appears to be l i t t l e objection. Fishermen 166 are deterred from adopting t h i s method of fi s h i n g due to the high i n i t i a l and operational costs of SCUBA. Safety is also a concern as there is no formal t r a i n i n g programs, decompression chambers nor regulations regarding dive operations and purity of compressed a i r . The degree to which fishermen w i l l object to a change in size l i m i t s w i l l depend on th e i r desire to invest in the resource. In other words, how w i l l i n g they are to trade immediate gains for larger future ones. Explaining the b i o l o g i c a l basis for these changes may convince some fishermen, but th e i r concern that poachers w i l l reap the benefits gained before they do, lessens the chance they w i l l abide by the regulation. One of the industry's main concerns with closed areas w i l l be how the areas are d i s t r i b u t e d with regard to each cooperative's location. Fishermen not allowed to f i s h in an area close to the i r home port w i l l f e e l deprived i f another cooperative i s not subject to the same inconvenience and higher costs incurred with t r a v e l l i n g to alternate s i t e s . Rotating closed areas may help resolve t h i s problem. 167 6 . 3 . 4 Recommended approach If a manager's aim was simply to achieve the target catch of one of the three harvest strategies considered here, the following options would be the best: Harvest Strategy Best Option(s) Constant catch Quota Fixed escapement Size l i m i t s , season and area closures Constant harvest rate E f f o r t l i m i t a t i o n Likewise, when considering which strategy would be best for a given objective, i t is recommended that a constant catch strategy be considered f i r s t i f the objective is to minimize year-to-year v a r i a b i l i t y ; a fixed escapement strategy, i f the desire i s to optimize long term average y i e l d ; and f i n a l l y , a f i x harvest rate i f the goal is to maximize YPR and recruitment overfishing was not a concern. The management s i t u a t i o n in Belize however, is not as simple as t h i s . Harvest strategies are not documented and there is no information on what l e v e l of y i e l d , f i s h i n g mortality rate or escapement managers should target f o r . The Fisheries Department has limited resources ( f i n a n c i a l and human) with which to monitor stock condition, implement options or enforce regulations. In addition to these management constraints, there are also aspects of the species' biology that raise the risks and costs of mismanagement. The conch's tendency to clump increases c a t c h a b i l i t y and may lead to a h y p e r s t a b i l i t y in LPUE. Determinant s h e l l growth leads to d i f f i c u l t i e s in estimating v i t a l parameters, and hence, changes in YPR with age of entry 168 into the fishery and F can not be modelled with any certainty. There i s also a long immature phase during which conch are p o t e n t i a l l y exploitable. Under these circumstances, adopting management strategies such as a quota system and limited entry program are not recommended. Information requirements are too demanding. Managers would need to estimate the long term target, and then determine whether the current exploitation rate should be reduced or allowed to r i s e and at what rate the target should be approached. In general, these regulations would be the most d i f f i c u l t to implement properly and monitor in Belize. Maintaining the fishery at i t s present magnitude (status quo policy) and improving the Fisheries Department's c a p a b i l i t i e s of monitoring stock condition would be a better approach. Given that the chances of recruitment overfishing are increased with time of f i r s t capture being less than time of f i r s t reproduction, i t i s recommended managers take a more conservative approach toward management. Given the p o s s i b i l i t y that a strong relationship may ex i s t between stock s i z e and recruitment, they should safeguard against recruitment overfishing by adopting a fixed escapement strategy. Of the harvest strategies considered above, th i s would be the best at minimizing the r i s k of the fishery collapsing from excessive f i s h i n g . The management options considered most appropriate in t h i s 169 regard include, in order of importance, si z e l i m i t s , season closures and gear r e s t r i c t i o n s . As explained in the section 6.3.1.5, a regulation prohibiting the harvest of nonlipped individuals and a minimum siz e r e s t r i c t i o n on market-cleaned meats corresponding to the average meat y i e l d adults (120 gm; 4.2 oz) are necessary to protect the breeding population u n t i l a more thorough assessment of stock condition can be made. Maintaining the current three-month closed season which extends over the warmest months of the year when spawning is thought to be most intense and prohibiting the harvest of adults which have migrated into areas too deep for free-divers to access are considered the next best management options. Size l i m i t s are most important because damage to the stock would be greatest i f they were not imposed. Fishermen would target on the smaller conch as they are found in dense cl u s t e r s , and therefore, easier to f i s h . The exclusion of the closed season would not be as detrimental because the economics of f i s h i n g conch would s t i l l control the rate of harvest to some extent. Gear r e s t r i c t i o n s are not as essential as s i z e l i m i t s because the lack of interest in SCUBA due to the costs involved would lessen the e f f e c t s of l i f t i n g the ban on SCUBA. The above options are passive controls with regard to e f f o r t . Given that fishermen have the potential to exert far greater e f f o r t than they currently do, i t would be wise to have a contingency plan in case changes in prices and/or decreases in the abundance of other species trigger fishermen to target on conch. Two options are considered f e a s i b l e : closed areas and a 170 s h i f t in the closed season. Closing areas which show signs of overfishing (eg., declining LPUE and mean size of individuals in the catch) should be a f i r s t step. An area closure i s easier to enforce because i t affects only the fishermen who routinely f i s h in the area. S h i f t i n g the closed season to include October would be more successful at l i m i t i n g e f f o r t but may also have a much stronger f i n a n c i a l impact on fishermen. This may be considered as a l a s t resort. Fishermen are accustomed to the three options considered above for immediate action, i . e . , size l i m i t s , closed season and gear r e s t r i c t i o n . Given a clear explanation of the stock's condition and b i o l o g i c a l basis of these measures, they may be encouraged to abide by the recommended changes and p a r t i c i p a t e in conservation programs. S o l i c i t i n g the assistance of fishermen in data c o l l e c t i o n and enforcement i s c r u c i a l in Belize due to the limited resources of the Fisheries Department. Their involvement at the decision-making level would also benefit management. Progress has been made by including the BFCA on the Fishery Advisory Board and recent decision to appoint members of the cooperatives' management committees as fishery o f f i c e r s . L i t t l e work, however, has been done at dockside. A new approach to c o l l e c t i n g data on catch and e f f o r t from the fishermen is proposed in section 6 . 4 . Monitoring the effects of the changes made in f i s h e r i e s regulations go hand in hand with t h e i r implementation. A t r i a l period of three years for new regulations should be considered. 171 Size composition data on fished and unfished populations as well as time series data on catch and e f f o r t by area are most needed for an evaluation of the recommended measures. The subject of data c o l l e c t i o n as a whole i s addressed below. 6 . 4 Suggestions for data c o l l e c t i o n Through-out this study, various types of data needed by fishery managers in Belize have been noted. They may be categorized into three main groups: conventional f i s h e r i e s data, economic data and data pertaining to basic b i o l o g i c a l parameters. The f i r s t group encompasses s t a t i s t i c s on landings and e f f o r t by time and location and the composition of the catch by s i z e . Knowledge of the operations of the f l e e t and how to standardize e f f o r t for v a r i a t i o n in f i s h i n g power also f a l l s into this category. H i s t o r i c a l data on prices, earnings, costs and incomes are needed to understand the economics of f i s h i n g conch, i . e . , whether the conch fishery has reached economic equilibrium and to what extent the presence of alternatives deters fishermen from exerting more e f f o r t on the conch stock. The l a s t category includes data from tagging investigations and research vessel surveys, i . e . , that pertaining to growth and mortality rates, the s p a t i a l heterogeneity of S. gigas, s e l e c t i v i t y of f i s h i n g operations, stock size and pre-recruit abundance. Time serie s of catch and e f f o r t data are the most useful for stock assessment purposes. The other data types are thought 172 to have a lower p r i o r i t y in Belize at present. Economic data w i l l c e r t a i n l y add to the burden of data c o l l e c t i o n . Research in the f i e l d (eg., surveys of conch biomass) would be costly because of the species' wide occurrence and patchy d i s t r i b u t i o n , and the requirement of divers. Sampling juveniles would be even more problematic due to their clumped d i s t r i b u t i o n , their habitat preferences which d i f f e r from adults, and the i r tendency to bury. In planning a new data c o l l e c t i o n program, the government might f i r s t consider separating the Fisheries Department into two d i f f e r e n t d i v i s i o n s - one for licensing and p o l i c i n g (eg. protection branch), and another for research and extension (eg. development branch). As i t i s , there is a c o n f l i c t of interest. Managers who establish and ensure that regulations are ef f e c t i v e , are also involved with the c o l l e c t i o n and analysis of catch and e f f o r t data. For fishermen to cooperate with b i o l o g i s t s , a clear d i s t i n c t i o n should be made between the two functions. The Fisheries Department may be too small at present to have two separate o f f i c e s but e f f o r t could be made to establ i s h a rapport with fishermen and ensure c o n f i d e n t i a l l y . Communication with fishermen at a l l stages of data c o l l e c t i o n i s important; b i o l o g i s t s should explain to fishermen why the s t a t i s t i c s are needed and report on the findings. Another step to be taken in improving the data c o l l e c t i o n system is to introduce a new type of s t a t i s t i c a l form. Instead of trying to determine landings per man from individual sales 173 receipts, i t would be better to estimate landings per boat (Appendix V). With this approach, only the captains would need to complete the data forms and the paperwork involved in analyzing the data would be reduced. This method would provide an estimation of the number of men aboard and days fished; and hence, improve resultant LPUE estimates. Trips made primarily for conch, i . e . , with n i l or incidental landings of other species, should be focussed upon. If other commodities are fished, an attempt should be made to estimate how many days (or hours) were devoted to conch. The new s t a t i s t i c a l forms could be adapted to include information on the number of foreign boats observed in fis h i n g grounds of Belize. This would be a simple means of assessing the magnitude of i l l e g a l f i s h i n g . The fishermen should be provided with instructions on how to complete the new forms properly, eg., that man-days per t r i p does not include t r a v e l l i n g time. Posting a schematic diagram of fi s h i n g areas (perhaps a prototype of s t a t i s t i c a l f i s h i n g areas) may f a c i l i t a t e the i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of area fished recorded on data forms. Data on catch and e f f o r t gathered d i r e c t l y from the fishermen can be used to correct for biases in the above 'log-book' data. Dockside surveys to supplement the log-book information and sample landings should be made on a routine basis, eg., twice a month at a l l cooperatives. Fisheries s t a f f w i l l need to be briefed on how to c o l l e c t the supplementary s t a t i s t i c a l information and sample landings randomly (see Chapter Two). Periodic sampling to id e n t i f y how many independent 174 fishermen deli v e r to the cooperatives could be done at the same time. Unlike catch and e f f o r t s t a t i s t i c s which indicate the effect f i s h i n g has on the stock i n d i r e c t l y through an apparent change in abundance, data on the s i z e composition of the catch indicate how the stock is affected by f i s h i n g . B i o l o g i c a l variables such as mean siz e and sex r a t i o are, therefore, i n t r i n s i c indices of stock status (Caddy, 1986). The importance of c o l l e c t i n g such data in Belize rests with t h e i r value in the detection of recruitment overfishing and ease of c o l l e c t i o n through the cooperatives' processing plants. Morphometric data could be gathered at the same time i f arrangements were made for some day-men to delivered conch l i v e . Past s t a t i s t i c s can be standardized by using the plant manager's records of d a i l y landings. These t a l l i e s have d e l i v e r i e s l i s t e d in chronological order. Hence, i t i s easier to i d e n t i f y d e l i v e r i e s per boat, and thereby, correct for bias introduced by the shares system and d e l i v e r i e s made by nonmembers (see Chapter F i v e ) . License information w i l l also be needed to estimate the number of fishermen in Belize and obtain more data on f i s h i n g operations by independent fishermen. It is important that the license forms, even renewals, be complete. More data w i l l not be of use to s c i e n t i s t s in t h e i r assessment of stock condition and changes in f i s h i n g a c t i v i t y unless they can be analyzed. Thus, improvements in the analysis 175 of catch and e f f o r t data must p a r a l l e l those in the c o l l e c t i o n system. In the interim, data should be well documented and organized ( i . e . , by time and location), and recorded accurately and neatly. Much of the tabulation and even analysis can be done with a hand calculator (Pauly, 1984). Computer assisted analyses may also be possible through arrangements with other countries having the f a c i l i t i e s . Countries with conch f i s h e r i e s of their own and research programs established in the Fisheries Department and/or u n i v e r s i t i e s (eg., U.S. and Puerto Rico) are apt to be the most interested in such a cooperative program. Collaboration of t h i s sort was promoted at the last international meeting on conch f i s h e r i e s held by the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (Williams, in press). 176 CONCLUSIONS 1. Prior to the establishment of f i s h i n g cooperatives in Belize in the 1960's, exports of queen conch (Strombus gigas) were minimal compared to those for lobster, scale f i s h and t u r t l e . Harvesting of conch on a large scale did not commence u n t i l 1967. For the following 20 years, the fishery was the country's second most important next to lobster in terms of economic value. 2. Expansion of the small-scale f i s h e r i e s of Belize is attributed largely to the ce n t r a l i z a t i o n of f i s h i n g through cooperatives. The system of fishermen-owned production and marketing cooperatives f a c i l i t a t e s improvements in harvesting methodology, processing and marketing, and contributes to the monitoring and regulation of f i s h i n g a c t i v i t i e s . 3. U n t i l 1978, National was the cooperative with the largest conch production. During the peak years of the fishery (1971-1977), th i s cooperative accounted for approximately 50% of the country's t o t a l landings. Roughly 82% of i t s members delivered conch each season. From 1978 to 1982, Sarteneja matched National in the production of conch with 95% of i t s members fi s h i n g for the species. Since 1982, National and Northern have been both the largest cooperatives and conch producers. Placencia has the largest portion of i t s t o t a l sales (25%) attributed to conch. Approximately, 85% of i t s members del i v e r conch within a season. 4. The average export p r i c e received for conch by the fi s h i n g cooperatives has increased from $8.62 BZ/kg in 1982 to $13.62 BZ/kg in 1986. Lobster and scale f i s h in comparision, averaged 177 $42.22 BZ/kg and $6.55 BZ/kg in 1986, respectively. Average export price for shrimp was $22.05 BZ/kg in 1986. Most of the conch processed by the cooperatives is sold to the United States; only 4.4% of the production by the four largest cooperatives was retained for sale on the l o c a l market in 1984. 5. The conch resource serves as a substitute source of income for fishermen when the lobster season is closed and when the abundance of alternate species i s low. National's conch divers on average earned $2,500 BZ to $3,600 BZ annually from their sales of conch between 1979 and 1984. Total gross annual income of National's producers was estimated to range from $10,400 BZ to $19,000 BZ over the same period. Variance in gross income between fishermen is high because many men f i s h on a part-time basis and others have more than one man's catch recorded under their name. 6. Conch landings by exporting cooperatives increased st e a d i l y from 1967 and peaked at 517,073 kg in 1972. Harvest dropped u n t i l 1980 due to a decline in stock biomass and subsequently, e f f o r t . LPUE (kg/man-day) decreased as abundance of older adults declined and the siz e d i s t r i b u t i o n of the catch s h i f t e d toward smaller individuals. The modification of harvest rate with abundance i s believed to be an operational response of the f l e e t to a mixed species resource. More data are needed for v e r i f i c a t i o n , but i t appears that fishermen t r y to maximize thei r economic returns per t r i p by seeking the most opportune mix of species depending on the i r r e l a t i v e abundance, market value and d i s t r i b u t i o n . 7. By the 1980's, the conch f i s h e r y was e s s e n t i a l l y seasonal 178 with roughly one t h i r d of the year's t o t a l production being delivered within the f i r s t month of the season (October). Relatively few divers f i s h conch on a f u l l - t i m e basis, but when targetting for other species, a l l divers w i l l take the conch they encounter. 8. LPUE averaged roughly 15.0 kg/md between 1978 and 1984. This is one t h i r d of what the catch rate was in the late 1960's. The reduction in e f f o r t in the late 1970's due to the poor economics of f i s h i n g conch r e l a t i v e to lobster, and the implementation of si z e l i m i t s and a closed season are thought to have given the stock an opportunity of rebuild i t s reserves. As a result, the stock was able to sustain the second upswing in e f f o r t from 1980 to 1984. 9. The drop in LPUE in 1985 and 1986 while e f f o r t remained r e l a t i v e l y constant may be a consequence of v a r i a b i l i t y in year class strength and/or growth overfishing. 10. The r e l i a b i l i t y of LPUE as an index of conch abundance maybe subject to a number of temporal and s p a t i a l variations in c a t c h a b i l i t y . 11. Fishing e f f o r t for conch increased from 1980 to 1984 due to an increase in the absolute number of conch divers (from 658 to 1028). The proportion of t o t a l fishermen in Belize delivering conch and the e f f o r t per man varied l i t t l e over t h i s period. Fishing mortality may have increased with the general expansion of the f i s h i n g industry. 12. A t o t a l of 1675 fishermen were active in Belize in 1984. The rate of increase in the number of independent fishermen has been greater than that for cooperative fishermen in recent years. In 179 1981, independents comprised 35% of the t o t a l fishermen in Belize; by 1984, they comprised 48%. 13. Approximately one t h i r d of conch divers are independent fishermen. L i t t l e i s known about these fishermen as t h e i r catch is not recorded. It is suspected that most d e l i v e r t h e i r catch to cooperatives under a member's name. 14. The majority of the year's t o t a l landings i s delivered by trip-fishermen as opposed to day-fishermen. It is estimated that conch divers f i s h on a t r i p basis 70% of the time. 15. Conch populations are believed to be f u l l y exploited within th e i r geographic d i s t r i b u t i o n in Belize. The only areas not yet fished are those beyond the maximum depth for free-diving (18m). The f i s h i n g grounds yi e l d i n g the largest conch at the greatest densities are found among the southern Cayes. 16. Fishing grounds near Half Moon Caye are showing signs of overfishing; LPUE has decreased and the average weight of meats landed is the lowest amongst the f i s h i n g grounds studied. Fishermen diving in these areas in June, 1985 were landing conch with an average meat weight of 94 gm (3.3 oz). In comparision, average meat weight of conch taken from areas along the main reef ranged from a low of 128 gm (4.5 oz) in the northern areas to 161 gm (5.7 oz) in the southern areas. 17. The current minimum siz e l i m i t s in Belize are a s h e l l length of 17.8 cm and a marketed-meat weight of 85 gm (3.0 oz). Weight/length relationships determined in t h i s study demonstrate that these values are contradictory; conch with a s h e l l length of 17.8 cm weigh less than 85 gm. Hence, fishermen f i s h i n g animals of legal s h e l l size may land meats as small as 49 gm 180 (1.7 oz); equivalent to an age of 2.2 years. A survey in 1985 indicated that 23% of the conch meats landed at the cooperatives were less than the regulation meat weight. 18. V i t a l parameters for Strombus gigas were d i f f i c u l t to estimate from the limited f i e l d data available on Belize populations. The cryp t i c nature of juveniles, varied habitat preferences of d i f f e r e n t s i z e classes and clumped pattern of d i s t r i b u t i o n make representative sampling d i f f i c u l t . Determinant s h e l l growth complicates the c a l c u l a t i o n of asymptotic weight and the use of length-frequency analyses to estimate growth parameters and mortality. 19. Published estimates of M and K vary s u b s t a n t i a l l y for S. gigas. Based on a y i e l d - p e r - r e c r u i t (YPR) analysis using M=0.1, F=0.*S and K=0.516, YPR i s maximized at a mean age of f i r s t capture ( t A ) of 3.5 years, equivalent to a length of 21.7 cm and meat weight of 113 gm (4.0 oz). However, the increase in YPR with time of harvest after 3.0 years is minimal; the average meat weight of 3.0 year old animals approximates the current minimum legal l i m i t , i . e . , 85gm (3.0 oz). With M=0.1, results of the analysis suggest f i s h i n g r e l a t i v e l y l i g h t l y at a high s i z e at f i r s t capture. When M i s increased, eg. M=0.5, the best option in terms of getting the maximum y i e l d from a r e c r u i t l e v e l i s to f i s h smaller individuals (t t=2.5) at a high rate of harvest (F=2.0). These results indicate that the current tc (2.2 years) in Belize is too low to maximize the y i e l d available from the population. 20. Conch reach terminal s h e l l size roughly one year before they are sexually mature. As a consequence of t h i s determinant s h e l l 181 growth, there is a long immature phase during which the species is p o t e n t i a l l y exploitable. If stock size is related strongly to recruitment, managing on the basis of YPR could increase the chances of recruitment overfishing. 21. The management options considered most appropriate for the conch fishery of Belize at present include, in order of importance, size l i m i t s , season closures and gear r e s t r i c t i o n s . A regulation prohibiting the harvest of nonlipped individuals and a minimum siz e r e s t r i c t i o n on market-cleaned meats corresponding to the average size of adults (120 gm; 4.2 oz) are necessary to protect the breeding population. Maintaining the current three-month closed season which extends over the warmest months of the year when spawning i s thought to be most intense and p r o h i b i t i n g the harvest of adults which have migrated into areas too deep for free-divers to access are considered the next best management options. 22. Area closures would be e f f e c t i v e in rejuvenating the stock in l o c a l i z e d areas and extending the closed season to include October would slow the increase in t o t a l f i s h i n g e f f o r t . 23. Conventional f i s h e r i e s data, p a r t i c u l a r l y those on s i z e composition of the catch, landings and e f f o r t by area are those most needed in Belize to monitor stock status. Routine dockside surveys to supplement logbook information on catch and e f f o r t and sample landings are recommended. Methods of compiling s t a t i s t i c a l data, sampling landings randomly and extracting required information from the data could be updated and documented for use by the Fisheries Department. 24. LPUE i s d i f f i c u l t to calculate from data on the s t a t i s t i c a l 182 forms currently used. An improved s t a t i s t i c a l form to be completed by the captain of each boat is suggested. T a l l y i n g the landings and divers per boat w i l l y i e l d more accurate estimates of LPUE and lessen the paperwork involved in analyzing the s t a t i s t i c s . 25. The involvement of fishermen at a l l levels of management is encouraged. Their f i s h i n g s k i l l s , knowledge of the species' habits and d i s t r i b u t i o n , and the time they spend at sea are valuable assets toward data c o l l e c t i o n and enforcement. The p a r t i c i p a t i o n of fishermen in the decision-making process w i l l also increase a management program's chances of success. 183 SUMMARY Lobster, conch and scale f i s h have t r a d i t i o n a l l y been the most important f i s h e r i e s in Belize. Queen conch (Strombus gigas) was f i r s t harvested for export on a large scale in 1967, shortly after f i s h i n g cooperatives were established. Lobster has always been the highest priced commodity, but conch has value as a secondary source of income when the lobster f i s h i n g season is closed or when alternative species are scarce. Conch accounted for 10% of the t o t a l value of f i s h exports in 1986, and i t i s estimated that about 62% of the commercial fishermen in Belize dive for conch. The success Belize has had in small-scale f i s h e r i e s development is attributed largely to the c e n t r a l i z a t i o n of fi s h i n g through cooperatives. The cooperative system f a c i l i t a t e s improvements in harvesting methodology, processing and marketing, and contributes to the monitoring and regulation of fi s h i n g a c t i v i t i e s . There are nine f i s h i n g cooperatives currently active in Belize and four of these export f i s h products. The largest cooperatives are situated in northern Belize in or near the main commercial centre (Belize C i t y ) . The smaller cooperatives are located in f i s h i n g v i l l a g e s scattered along the southern coast. The fishermen-owned production and marketing cooperatives secure export markets for Belizean products and provide low interest loans for th e i r membership. 184 The fishermen of Belize are s k i l l e d and v e r s a t i l e ; each may f i s h a number of species, a variety of ways. They may work only part-time as a crewman or own more than one sailboat and hire additional crew. Some fishermen work s o l e l y on a day basis (eg., conch divers residing on Caye Caulker), and others, on a t r i p basis (eg. Sartenejan d i v e r s ) . Fishermen may change their s p e c i a l i t y during their f i s h i n g careers, and hence, there is a high turnover in crews, boats and equipment. General licensing of fishermen and boats i s used by the Fisheries Department to monitor f i s h i n g a c t i v i t i e s . As prices for the exported f i s h commodities r i s e and the unemployment s i t u a t i o n in Belize becomes worse, more people are attracted to the f i s h i n g industry. The number of active fishermen in Belize is estimated to have increased from 1083 in 1978 to 1675 in 1984. Licensed commercial fishermen not a f f i l i a t e d with the cooperatives (independent fishermen) have shown the greatest increase in number. Today, they comprise approximately 50% of the active fishermen in Belize and 33% of the conch divers. There are no records of th e i r production, but there i s evidence to suggest that many del i v e r t h e i r catch to the cooperatives, and that t h e i r landings are accounted for in the cooperatives' s t a t i s t i c s . A study of catch s t a t i s t i c s for the f i v e largest cooperatives demonstrated that each cooperative's production of conch varied in r e l a t i o n to the membership's siz e and interest in the commodity. Prior to 1980, National and Caribena had the 185 greatest number of active fishermen. Sarteneja was the fourth largest cooperative and about 95% of i t s membership was del i v e r i n g conch. Since the Sarteneja cooperative closed in 1982, both Northern and National have expanded with the amalgamation of ex-Sarteneja members and growth in the industry as a whole. In 1985, the i r memberships t o t a l l e d 421 and 353 respectively. National has always been the largest producer of conch. From 1971 to 1977 i t s production accounted for 56% of the t o t a l recorded landings. During t h i s time, the number of i t s fishermen del i v e r i n g conch remained r e l a t i v e l y consistent but e f f o r t per man was s t e a d i l y decreasing. By the time the closed season was implemented in 1978, the absolute number of fishermen and the proportion of members diving for conch had also declined. This trend was reversed in 1981. By 1984, National once again accounted for 58% of the t o t a l conch production by the exporting cooperatives and 80% of i t s producing members delivered conch. Northern i s the second largest producer of conch, but i t s main interest i s in the lobster f i s h e r y . Before 1980, only 35% of i t s producers fished for conch and though higher today (56%), t h i s percentage is s t i l l the lowest among the cooperatives. A notable percentage of Caribena's members delive r conch but very few f i s h the species on a regular basis. These fishermen are better known for the i r lobster and f i s h production. Placencia i s located in a region where trapping for lobster i s d i f f i c u l t . Fishermen of thi s cooperative are primarily skin-divers and 186 depend greatly on conch for a l i v e l i h o o d . Approximately, 85% of i t s producing members dive for conch and though this is the smallest exporting cooperative, i t ranks t h i r d in conch production. The conch fishery has passed through four stages in i t s development. The f i r s t marks the period when fishermen discovered that conch f i s h i n g could be p r o f i t a b l e . From 1967 to 1971, the percentage of fishermen at National d e l i v e r i n g conch increased from 25% to 77% of the t o t a l producing membership. Conch landings by exporting cooperatives peaked in 1972 at 517,073 kg. During the second phase in the mid-1970's, fis h i n g e f f o r t continued to increase but landings-per-unit-effort (LPUE) f e l l from an estimated 45.4 to 22.7 kg/man-day. This was caused by a decrease in both the number and average si z e of individuals in the stock. The average si z e of animals landed in 1976 was roughly 66 gm (2.3 oz). This is less than half the size of conch in the r e l a t i v e l y unfished populations that remain today, i . e . , those found in waters too deep for skindiving. With the abrupt drop in catch rate and the establishment of new export markets for scale f i s h in 1974, fishermen decreased the time they spent f i s h i n g conch and turned th e i r attention to other species. This i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of a f l e e t ' s operation when there is a mixed species resource. Although economic data were limited for t h i s study, i t appears that Belize fishermen try to maximize the i r economic returns per t r i p by seeking out the most opportune mix of lobster, conch and scale f i s h 187 depending on the r e l a t i v e abundance, market value and d i s t r i b u t i o n of these species. Season and s i z e r e s t r i c t i o n s were also implemented during the t h i r d phase of the fishery and the average si z e of conch landed at the cooperative gradually increased. These management measures and the decline in e f f o r t during the late 1970's are believed to have enabled the conch stock to rebuild i t s reserves. In the l a s t phase i d e n t i f i e d (1981-1984), fishermen were landing one t h i r d of the year's annual production of conch in the f i r s t month of the season (October). Days-fished per man-year remained low but the number of fishermen f i s h i n g conch rose from an estimated 684 in 1981 to 1028 in 1984. E f f o r t exerted in the conch fishery in 1984 was the highest i t had been in eight years and only 20% less than the record high of 1975. During the re-expansion of the fishery, LPUE remained stable at 15.0 kg/md (which i s one t h i r d of what i t was in the late 1960's) u n t i l 1984. Production by the exporting cooperatives has declined in recent years while e f f o r t has remained f a i r l y stable. Total landings for 1986 was 110,232 kg, the lowest i t has been in 20 years. V a r i a b i l i t y in recruitment and growth overfishing are probable causes for the decline in abundance but i t is d i f f i c u l t to discern which one i s most responsible given the limited data avaiable for stock assessment. The above evaluation of stock status i s based on the 188 assumption that LPUE r e f l e c t s conch abundance. There are no data to refute t h i s assumption, but i t i s noted that certain aspects of the species' biology and the fishery may influence c a t c h a b i l i t y . For instance, conch are readily detectable, have a clumped d i s t r i b u t i o n and congregate to breed. These c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s tend to increase c a t c h a b i l i t y . Migration of conch into deep waters and their tendency to bury on the other hand, lessens the chances of their being caught by free-divers. Characteristics of the fishery which affects how well the trend in LPUE represents that in abundance include year-to-year v a r i a t i o n in the d i s t r i b u t i o n of f i s h i n g and changes in the hours fished per day. Since the 1960's, conch f i s h i n g has gradually moved from northern Belize to the outer a t o l l s and the southern cayes. As stock density decreases in the current f i s h i n g grounds, fishermen w i l l continue to search for less heavily fished populations (eg., those along the outer edge of the main r e e f ) . As a res u l t , LPUE may overestimate true abundance. In contrast, LPUE may underestimate abundance because the number of hours per day a diver operates underwater has increased over time. In the early 1970's, the search time/handling time index was small. Today, landings per day are not limited by how many conch fishermen can clean; i t is limited by how many they can f i n d . The key issue regarding the management of the conch fishery in Belize i s the harvest of animals before they are capable of reproducing. Given the results of the YPR analysis, i t appears fishermen are also -removing animals of an age less than that 189 considered optimum for maximizing YPR (estimated to be between 3 . 0 and 3 . 5 years). With declining LPUE and the increasing number of fishermen diving conch, there is need for immediate action. Size l i m i t s , season closures and gear r e s t r i c t i o n s are the management options that the author believes w i l l be most successful in ensuring that there is adequate escapement and preventing a collapse of the fishery due to recruitment overfishing. Area closures and an extension of the closed season were proposed as secondary options should the occurences of growth overfishing increase. These types of controls are passive and not the best for c o n t r o l l i n g the f i s h i n g mortality rate. However, for active forms of regulation (eg., l i m i t i n g entry) to be e f f e c t i v e , one needs more s c i e n t i f i c information and enforcement than the Belize Fisheries Department is presently capable of supplying. Management of the conch resource in Belize is hindered by primarily one thing - lack of money. As a developing country, Belize does not have the finances to provide the Fisheries Department with the equipment and manpower that i s needed to conduct baseline research and enforce regulations. With a s t a f f of 12 and no law enforcement d i v i s i o n , the Fisheries Department is hard pressed to control i l l e g a l f i s h i n g on a species which is fished by approximately 1028 fishermen along a b a r r i e r reef 240 km long. Lack of conventional f i s h e r i e s data is considered to be the primary management constraint. It is recommended the Fisheries Department d i r e c t more of i t s finances and manpower toward monitoring the stock's condition v i a e f f o r t assessment 190 ( i . e . , obtaining data on landings, f i s h i n g e f f o r t and s i z e composition of the landings by area). B i o l o g i c a l studies pertaining to population dynamics, c a t c h a b i l i t y and recruitment are of lower p r i o r i t y as they are costly and do not meet the immediate information needs for management. With f i s h i n g centralized through the cooperatives, the costs of a s t a t i s t i c a l survey in comparision could be kept at a minimum. The cooperation of fishermen is c r u c i a l to both data c o l l e c t i o n and enforcement. This i s es p e c i a l l y true for Belize due to the limited funds the Fisheries Department has available for research surveys and f i s h e r i e s surveillance. Opening channels of communication with fishermen to gain t h e i r support in management is recommended. Progress made thus far includes the representation of the BFCA on the Fishery Advisory Board and appointment of fishermen as f i s h e r y o f f i c e r s . Educational programs aimed at convincing the users and general public of the need to conserve natural resources have also been i n i t i a t e d . However, more interaction between the b i o l o g i s t and fishermen at dockside i s s t i l l needed. The fishermen's cooperation in providing data w i l l be minimal as long as they associate the Fisheries Department with law enforcement. Separating the development and management d i v i s i o n of the department from the f i s h e r i e s protection d i v i s i o n when feasi b l e and ensuring c o n f i d e n t i a l i t y in the meantime w i l l f a c i l i t a t e data c o l l e c t i o n . LPUE i s d i f f i c u l t to calculate from data on the s t a t i s t i c a l forms currently used. The cooperatives' produce vouchers must be 191 kept in chronological order so that true landings per man can be back calculated from the shares recorded, and sales receipts corresponding to more than one man's delivery can thus be i d e n t i f i e d . Corrections must also be made to calculate days-fished from days-at-sea recorded by trip-men. The bias in s t a t i s t i c a l records due to species preference may be accounted for by focussing on skippers who are s p e c i a l i s t s in f i s h i n g conch and more l i k e l y to concentrate on thi s species irrespective of changes in abundance of other species. Hence, records of d e l i v e r i e s of more than one species should be separated from those corresponding to conch-only d e l i v e r i e s . To avoid the above problems, i t i s suggested that a new format be used on the s t a t i s t i c a l forms so that landings/boat and men/boat are recorded instead of each individual crewman's landings. One form would be completed by the captain of each boat and hence, the paperwork, for fishermen and b i o l o g i s t s a l i k e , reduced. Assistance of cooperative personnel to ensure the forms are completed when the delivery is made may be necessary. Provision should also be made in the data c o l l e c t i o n system for the analysis of data and the documentation and presentation of re s u l t s . 192 LITERATURE CITED Adams, J . E. 1985. Fish markets of Belize: Problems of f i s h consumption. J . Cultural Geog. 5(2):43-60. Alcolado, P. M. 1976. Growth, morphological variations of the s h e l l and some b i o l o g i c a l data of the conch Strombus gigas L. (Mollusca, Mesogastropoda). Acad. Cienc. Cuba Ser. Oceanol. No. 34. 26 p. Allsopp, W. H. L. 1967. 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Pyle, and N. M. C o l l i n s . 1983. The IUCN Invertebrate Red Data Book. IUCN. Gland, Switzerland. 632 p. Williams, F. (ed.) In press. Conch Fisheries Management Workshop. Proc. Gulf Carib. Fish. Inst. 38. Wood, R. S. and D. A. Olsen. 1983. Application of b i o l o g i c a l knowledge to the management of the V i r g i n Islands conch fishery. Proc. Gulf. Carib. Fish. Inst. 35:112-121. Appendix I Sources of f i s h e r i e s information (representatives interviewed) BELIZE FISHERIES DEPARTMENT P.O. Box 148, Belize City (Tel: 44552) (Minister of Fisheries - Mr. Eduardo Juan*) (Fisheries Administrator - Mr. Winston M i l l e r * ) BELIZE COOPERATIVES & CREDIT UNIONS DEPARTMENT P.O. Box 159, Belize City (Tel: 7401) (Registrar of Cooperatives - Mr. Norman Augustine*) BELIZE FISHERMEN COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATION LTD. P.O. Box 751, Belize C i t y (Tel: 45267) (Chairman - Mr. Eddie Young*) NATIONAL FISHERMEN PRODUCER'S COOPERATIVE SOCIETY LTD. P.O. Box 316, Belize City (Tel: 3165) (Executive Secretary - Mr. Raymond Bradley) NORTHERN FISHERMEN COOPERATIVE SOCIETY LTD. P.O. Box 647, Belize City (Tel: 44460) (Executive Secretary - Mr. Robert Usher) CARIBENA PRODUCER'S COOPERATIVE SOCIETY LTD. San Pedro, Ambergris Caye (Tel: 026-2011) or P.O. Box 322, Belize City (Executive Secretary - Mr. Ruben Paz) PLACENCIA PRODUCER'S COOPERATIVE SOCIETY LTD. Point Placencia, Stann Creek D i s t r i c t (Tel: 06-2046-2116) (Executive Secretary - Mr. William Faux) FISHERY ADVISORY BOARD Fis h e r i e s Department, P.O. Box 148, Belize City. (Secretary - Mrs. J . Gibson) SOURCES OF ECONOMIC INFORMATION: Central Bank of Belize - Treasury Bldg., Belize C i t y O f f i c e of Economic Development - P.O. Box 42, Belmopan Chamber of Commerce & Industry - P.O. Box 291, Belize City American Embassy - P.O. Box 286, Belize City * no longer in o f f i c e Appendix II Information gathered during interviews with fishermen FISHERMAN: - name, residence, cooperative - number of years in the conch fishery ( f u l l - t i m e or part-time basis) - other commodities fished; how; when - other jobs besides f i s h i n g CREW: - average s i z e BOAT AND MOTOR: - type, s i z e , age - icebox capacity EXPENSES PER TRIP: - for gas, ice, food, other supplies - cost of boat and gear - system of sharing the catch FISHING AREA: - grounds fished on l a s t excursion, over the course of the season and in past years TIME SPENT FISHING: - average number of days at sea - a c t i v i t i e s while at sea and time devoted to each (eg., t r a v e l l i n g , turn-around, and searching, gathering and cleaning the catch) - time spent at port (eg., for hauling the boat and holidays) - type of excursion usually made (eg., day, s a i l i n g or camping t r i p ) THE AFFECT WEATHER HAS ON FISHING: - when are conditions too poor to dive (re: wind, r a i n , temperature and "Northerns") - is a radio (AM) taken to sea PRODUCTION: - unit of measure (eg., p i g - t a i l bucket, sack, basket, dory) - today's delivery of conch, number of men aboard and days spent f i s h i n g - weight of other products delivered - losses between capture and landing of conch (eg., eaten by crew, given to friends/family, sold at l o c a l market) - weight of meats rejected by cooperative - average day's catch t h i s season; in the past DISTRIBUTION AND AVAILABILITY: - where are conch found (depth, bottom type, inside/outside the reef) - how are individuals d i s t r i b u t e d (clumped or dispersed) - abundance of juveniles less than 10 cm - proportion of catch comprised of lipped animals - fishermens knowledge of the species' l i f e - h i s t o r y - l o c a l names for Strombus gigas OBERVATIONS OF FOREIGN FISHERY Number of members interviewed at each cooperative: National 13 Northern 17 Caribena 9 Placencia 12 TOTAL 51 211 Appendix III Recording Daily Landings of Conch: Suggestions regarding the c o l l e c t i o n of f i s h e r i e s data for the c a l c u l a t i o n of LPUE (kg/man-day) DATE - the day the catch was landed; note t h i s is not necessarily when the sales receipt was cashed. LANDINGS - t o t a l weight of conch landed by the crew as a whole, i . e . , landings per boat-trip. NUMBER OF MEN ABOARD - a l l those men who fished conch including men who are not members of the cooperative. - do not simply record names of individuals who received a sales receipt. NUMBER OF DAYS FISHED - number of days spent f i s h i n g on the grounds. - does not include t r a v e l l i n g and turn-around time. LANDINGS OF OTHER SPECIES - i f other species were caught on the same f i s h i n g t r i p , note the number of days devoted to f i s h i n g each commodity. AREA FISHED - f i s h i n g grounds v i s i t e d . Appendix IV Cooperative Produce Voucher Placencia Producers Co-operative Society Ltd. | P R O D U C E V O U C H E R ] DATE: 19 Seller's Name . Name of Boat. Method: Days Fished:. Area Fished: 27369 Commodity Weight Lbs. Rate Amount: LOBSTER TAILS CONCH MUTTON SNAPPER CLASS " A " LANE SNAPPER REEF SNAPPER BLACK SNAPPER YELLOW TAIL HOG SNAPPER DEEP WATER SILK GOAT FISH KING FISH FISH CLASS " B " BARRACUDA MACKEREL GROUPER JACK FISH CLASS " C " GRUNT PORGY TRIGGER FISH DOCTOR FISH T O T A L 4 _ Received the sum of $ in payment for the above commodity Seller's Signature Receiving Clerk Appendix V Fis h i n g Licence A p p l i c a t i o n s (Source:. B e l i z e F i s h e r i e s Regulations, 1 9 7 7 ) SCHEDULE Z Fens Al. . Panaris O d M N Chapter 133 APPLICATION FOR A LICENCE TO FISH (BOATS) OR RENEWAL THEREOF To: Tht Fisheries Administrator. ] (W«) (Nantfs) of owner in lul l ) :---n . {Plata Prim) of (Full Pesttl AcMrass of owner) . (Pleas* Prill) The owneKs) of the oodniiieiiliunej fisnrog boat, hereby apply Io register the antd boat Io bt imd fot taking ol fish for ale. Nana of BoU" Port of DomJcOe (Flow where boat k based). Type of Beat: Smttk ( ) Dry Beat'. 0 » « * W ( ) Inboard { Jhysevajsttois #^  AMf * Overall Length BortwWote: Ho Type of Fuel: Date of AppBoanofi ..Signature Data Received FOR OFFICE USE ONLY Licence No. Raatetratloa Mark Allocated _ Pat PaM aad Receipt Number Date Issuer] SCHEDULE 2 Form BI. APPLICATION FOR A FISHERMAN* LICENCE OR RENEWAL THEREOF Part A la be completed la fall awl actnaonahd by two foil foot Photographs of tbe appllcaat Bot eieredbaj floe am) one half Inches by one tech In •tie. For first tone nosey shook! not be tent with tbe form. For fir* rsrar* proof or dtlzemhlp or ralld work permit matt be for. ntsbed with tbe application or at tbe time oTactaal brae of tbe licence. To: The Fisher id Administrator. PART A. I hereby apply for a first issue/renewal of a fishermen 1 licence. Name.. Fishing« Home Address _ {block capitals) years (full lime _Age_ .yean _Part Time- -jrr» -I am a boat owner, boat operator. 1 i»nn«n I am/an not a member of a fuUaiueu't co-operative aodety Name of Cooperative ff a member Mnnl»iilil|> No Previous fishermen's licenaeNo. Date Iarued PART B. t andeoiiniealeatylfa To ba Ca uphill h Ml far I M hawsfrst lame aaoBrjrtta bare taken aaaee) Type of fishini in which engaged and methods used. Please en prtase method and enter tbe number of units applicable in the caaaayeBlheaMrftglveabi On Traps Drums Lebtttr ( ) No. ( )No. ( Scale FUM Traps Divini Other )No.( )No. ( ) ) Srine oeli Call nets Set nets ) Tangle neb) ) Gill Tra funic! ml ( ) No.( ) No.( ) No.( ) No.( ) No.( ) No.( iter a tick against tbe appro-spaces provided. Cone* Onto ) Diving ( ) Product ) ) ) ) >-—lor 2 we" Method No. of Unitt Beach traps ( ) No. ( )—ahore or open sea Fish pots ( ) No. ( Drop lines ( ) LongUnea ( ) No. ( )—any type >-h>dlcate books/100 yards. Other methods specify Approximate value of gear_ .Place of normal landing of catch Date of application_ ..Signature of Applicant THIS PART FOR OFFICE USE ONLY: Received In Office Fee received ( ) Passport No. Work permit Birth Cert . 214 Appendix VI Annual Production (kg) of conch, lobster and scale f i s h by each f i s h i n g cooperative ( f i s c a l year) CONCH YEAR NATIONAL NORTHERN CARIBENA PLACENCIA SARTENEJA TOTAL 1967 25596 43384 55968 0 0 124939 1968 84684 31893 25458 - 0 142036 1969 119531 58884 49781 20623* - 248820 1970 123349 69459 67659 16065* 12156 288690 1971 262740 69656 50511 31729* 33663* 448302 1972 286525 53450 61018 47559* 68519 517073 1973 292062 27836 102563 28766* 57442 508672 1974 172270 22707 54208 58132* 85695 393015 1975 203992 32767 43333 63449* 73687 417229 1976 197210 34475 30093 40982* 48356 351117 1977 123426 28366 23279 48949* 46360 270382 1978 62477 21695 20901 29075* 74198 208348 1979 83850 22024 31224 25845 63529 226474 1980 42112 18440 12125 21166* 34470 128315 1981 52067 23827 5330 33443* 54779 169449 1982 61606 36806 10177 25907 28940* 163438 1983 95920 55994 23784 26207 0 201907 1984 129930 47196 24910 23209 0 225247 1985 70840* 40722 21917 30759* 0 164239 1986 52468* 20794+ 15602 21368* 0 116232 LOBSTER YEAR NATIONAL NORTHERN CARIBENA PLACENCIA SARTENEJA TOTAL 1967 38923 34968 54006 0 0 127898 1968 33712 73669 58565 - 0 165947 1969 32636 65043 49460 14333* 7936 169410 1970 31859 68550 50072 13660* 6511 170655 1971 40960 96429 55882 15174* 10100 218548 1972 34629 63876 53829 14557* 10684 177578 1973 35156 57778 48736 10157* 9953 161783 1974 44208 66881 57232 13182* 17471 198976 1975 37124 84228 52123 11704* 12681 197862 1976 57225 94801 51743 14896* 14998 233665 1977 43127 56005 42766 11100* 10307 163307 1978 50783 65621 51399 14399+ 17181 199384 1979 55885 67796 58206 17985 11977 211851 1980 58312 54011 52093+ 14288* 10991 189697 1981 99742 124707 80206 19665 16844 341166 1982 91265 90856 58564 15420 4790 260897 1983 108795 123075 45373 17205 0 294448 1984 103060 144238 32766 12715 0 292780 1985 89428 177738 36458* 13835* 0 317459 1986 67882* 126427 21468* 14481* 0 230258 215 FISH YEAR NATIONAL NORTHERN CARIBENA PLACENCIA SARTENEJA TOTAL 1967 686 - - 0 0 — 1968 1003 - - - 0 — 1969 5303 - - 0 — 1970 3674* - - 0 — 1971 7411 - 31708 - 0 — 1972 9342 8242 45059 - 0 — 1973 4597 3456 66744 — 0 — 1974 12482 27122 91359 - 0 — 1975 24157* 48957 - - 0 — 1976 28440* 124489 187774* 59380 0 400085 1977 62991* 112747 150423 76572+ 0 402735 1978 39823* 91479 154026 102006+ 0 387335 1979 27052 94714 147231 69413 0 338412 1980 37342 113540 126759+ 60525+ 0 338166 1981 38987 93348 59340 91604 0 283280 1982 115954 144663 80669 80742 0 422029 1983 128209 133766 64327 65288 0 391591 1984 66377 75310 45149 46412 0 233249 1985 58431* 98258 66989 68463* 0 289573 1986 115174* 122644 57365* 95169* 0 390352 * Includes production of non-members + Based on calendar year - Data not available-216 Appendix VII Estimation of the maximum number of days per year that could be spent f i s h i n g conch. Seasons: Closed for Conch Closed for Lobster July l-Sept.30 0ct.l-Mar.14 Mar.l5-June 30 (as of 1978) Total Days: 92 166 107 Time Subtracted: Holidays 5 15 15 Sundays 13 23 16 Bad Weather 15 28 18 Boat Repairs 7 14 7 TOTAL 40 80 56 Maximum days at sea: 52 86 51 SUBTRACTION OF TRAVELLING AND TURN-AROUND TIME OF TRIP-MEN: A. Total days at sea since 1978 = 137 1. Time allocated to day fis h e r y = 137 * 0.3 = 41.1 days 2. Time allocated to t r i p f i shery = 137 * 0.7 = 95.9 days Tr i p length from time of loading to unloading = 11 days Number of t r i p s per year = 95.9 / 11 = 8.7 Tra v e l l i n g and turn-around time = 4 * 8.7 = 34.9 days Time allocated to t r i p f i shery = 95.9 - 34.9 = 61.0 days Estimated maximum number of days/year that could be spent f i s h i n g conch (since 1978) = 102 days B. Total days at sea p r i o r to 1978 = 189 1. Day fi s h e r y = 189 * 0.3 = 56.7 days 2. T r i p f i s h e r y = 189 * 0.7 = 132.3 days Time spent f i s h i n g = 132.3- [(132.3/11 )*4J = 84.3 days Estimated maximum number of days/year a fisherman could have spent f i s h i n g conch p r i o r to 1978 = 141 days 

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