In the 1970s, many thousands of groupers aggregated at this site, but in 1999, WCS researcher Dr. Enric Sala and his team estimated only 3,000 groupers were aggregating at the bank. Dr. Sala expressed deep concern in 2001 about the low numbers of aggregating Nassau groupers at the spawning site located at Northeast Point, Glover’s Reef.As a result of the research at Glover’s and sites around Belize, the Government of Belize passed legislation to fully protect 11 spawning sites, including Northeast Point, and introduced a four month closed season for the Nassau grouper.Since the passing of these protective regulations, WCS and reserve staff have been conducting counts of Nassau groupers at the spawning aggregation site at Northeast Point, using the protocol developed for the Mesoamerican Reef region.Through this protocol, counts are made by visual census techniques of species aggregating at the site, documenting the time and location, along with estimates of the sizes of fish. Physical measurements including salinity, currents, and air and water temperature are also taken.

SPAG_Team_R_Pott

Based on the results of the monitoring of this aggregation site as well as several others in Belize, further protection measures for the species were introduced in 2009, including a minimum and maximum size limit. The monitoring data are entered in a shared, online database, where data collected from other sites are also stored (see SPAG report).

WCS is a member of the Belize National Spawning Aggregation Working Group, comprised of 13 representatives from various organizations whose main goal is “to develop strategies to maintain the aggregation sites for the protection, conservation and sustainable use of the fishery” through monitoring of the aggregation sites, public awareness and training (see www.spagbelize.org).