Target: Portia Simpson-Miller, Prime Minister of Jamaica
Goal: Stop the overfishing of the parrotfish in the Caribbean to save this species and the coral reef
Conservation groups across the globe have found that 50% of coral reefs have been lost in the past four decades, but they have found hope to restore these diverse ecosystems through parrotfish. The small fish can help create colorful communities, combating climate change and coral bleaching, both of which pose serious problems to coral reefs. Parrotfish do so by eating algae, enabling coral to grow. However, overfishing of parrotfish prevents coral reefs from forming.
Scientists conducted studies, particularly in the Caribbean where coral reef loss has been most dramatic, and data identified parrotfish as a keystone species to coral reefs. In Bermuda, Bonaire, and the United States Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, where fishing is limited or prohibited for parrotfish, coral reefs still exist. In Jamaica, the Virgin Islands, and some parts of Florida, coral reefs have been severely reduced. Whether it is by reducing traps or spearfishing, many countries have become more successful at maintaining coral reefs by ensuring parrotfishes’ survival.
Although the Caribbean is composed of 38 countries that often find themselves at odds with one another, the $3 billion in annual revenue that coral reefs bring, whether it is by attracting tourists, fueling fisheries, or yielding products, could unite the countries’ economies. Besides the profit that parrotfish as well as other grazing animals of algae can bring, parrotfish themselves are integral to other species’ survival.
Please save coral reefs by keeping parrotfish safe.
Dear Prime Minister Miller,
I am writing in the hopes that you will adopt the same protective fishing practices of parrotfish that other countries in the Caribbean currently have. Research has proven that parrotfish enable coral reefs to withstand the pressures of climate change and coral bleaching by stopping the spread of algae. In eating the algae, parrotfish clear out space for coral.
Limiting or prohibiting fishing of parrotfish, whether through less traps or spearfishing, could help coral reefs grow. Stopping overfishing would provide enormous economic benefits to Jamaica and thus contribute to better relations with neighboring countries. Some countries already have protective fishing practices such as these.
Coral reefs contribute over $3 billion for the Caribbean’s economies each year due to its appeal to tourists, its appeal to fisheries, and its appeal to manufacturers who need coral reefs for their products. Please do your part in saving one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems by protecting parrotfish.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Richard Whitcombe via 123RF