Reef Fish Conservation

Parrotfish. Photo by David Sanford

Oceans 5 supports the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA), a regional nonprofit organization that works in the Americas using international environmental law to protect sensitive ecosystems and the people that depend on them. This three-year project seeks the legal protection and effective management of herbivorous fish and fish spawning aggregations in seven countries to ensure the conservation of coral reefs and the marine organisms they sustain.

Parrotfish and other herbivorous fish are present wherever healthy coral reefs are found, keeping them healthy by feeding on the algae that compete with corals for
oxygen, light and space. Despite their importance, overfishing and the inadequate regulation of fisheries threaten these key species. Various studies have found that Caribbean reefs, where the most significant decrease in parrotfish populations has occurred, are being suffocated by algae; in areas where the recovery of parrotfish has taken place, coral versus macro-algae coverage has improved significantly. The
protection and recovery of parrotfish proves to be essential for coral reefs to survive and adapt to rising ocean temperatures and acidity.

The project will focus on supporting communications and legal advocacy for ecosystem-based management to conserve herbivorous fish and fish spawning aggregations in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Colombia and Panama. AIDA will work to raise awareness among national and international decision-makers and encourage the creation of legal protections for these fish and better manage fisheries to sustain healthy ocean habitats.