The Ministry of Home Affairs wishes to advise the public that, following recent amendments to the Fisheries (Protected Areas) Order 2000, the Red Hind aggregation areas within the Seasonally Protected Areas will be open to fishing from today (August 15, 2017). However, it should be noted that the extended closure areas around Black Grouper aggregations will remain closed to fishing until December 1.
However, in recent years, there appears to have been a shift in when aggregations first form for the season, and large catches of Red Hind occurred from the “Hind Grounds” during the month of April in both 2016 and 2014. Technical officers of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources think that Red Hind are gathering earlier to spawn in some years because of increased sea water temperatures.
Following consultations with stakeholders, it was agreed that the Red Hind aggregation sites needed greater protection and it was decided to move the closure period for the Seasonally Protected Areas forward by two weeks. Therefore the closure period for the “Hind Grounds” will now run from April 15 through August 14 each year.
The larger Black Grouper has a longer spawning season than the Red Hind, and this species forms aggregations from the spring through the month of November. This is why fishing will be prohibited in the extended closure areas through November 30 each year.
These measures have been put in place to afford greater protection to these important spawning aggregations going forward. The exact boundaries of the Seasonally Protected Areas and extended closure areas are shown in the two accompanying maps, below, which also include the GPS co-ordinates for the four corners of each area.
Amendments have also been made to the Fisheries Regulations 2010 in order to further protect the Red Hind. These are:
The addition of a year-round catch limit for recreational fishers of ten Red Hind per boat or per person fishing from shore within a 24 hour period and;
A catch limit for commercial fishermen of 50 Red Hind per boat within a 24 hour period during the month of April.
The catch limit of ten Red Hinds per 24 hour period from May 1 to August 31 remains in place for commercial fishermen.
The fishing public is also reminded that there is a year-round catch limit of one Black Grouper per boat or per person fishing from shore within a 24 hour period for all fishers.
All tags taken from examined fish will be entered into a draw. Four $500 Masters Ltd. gift certificates will be awarded throughout the year. The draw for the first certificate will be held on September 1, 2017.
The tagging studies will provide important information that technical officers from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources can use to help evaluate the effectiveness of these new protective measures, and the intention is to review these measures once sufficient data have been collected.
The Ministry urges the public to familiarize themselves with the Seasonally Protected Areas and extended closure areas, and to abide by the Fisheries Regulations in order to help conserve our Red Hind and Black Grouper populations.