I read with interest the article on establishing fishing quotas on parrot fish.
I am an avid scuba diver, and can tell you from personal observation that the parrot fish population has plummeted over the past decade in the reefs that I dive (North Shore, Cane Bay, Frederiksted areas).
The growth of brown algae has exploded during this same timeframe. The algae are killing off massive amounts of coral. The affected coral types include the staghorn and elkhorn, both protected species. These are fast-growing species. But wherever you see new growth, the brown algae-overgrowth line follows 6 inches or so behind. All the coral behind that line is dead. I have yet to see a single staghorn or elkhorn coral that is free from some degree of brown algae infestation.
Parrot fish eat algae and protect the reefs by helping to contain its growth.
It does not take a scientist to connect the dots. The parrot fish population needs protection if our reefs are to get the protection they need. As it stands, our local reefs are in a death spiral. The recent scientific literature on point only underscores what St. Croix divers have been seeing with their own eyes for years.
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