Climate change and overfishing threaten the reefs in the Silver Banks

A recent report suggests actions to mitigate the deterioration of the Silver Banks reef, north of Puerto Plata. More work is needed to identify threats and development of mitigation plans. The report urges the development of a management, monitoring and control plan for poaching in the Silver Banks.

“Our coral banks are a refuge for humpback whales and we must protect them so that they are also a sanctuary for living corals, reef fish and benthic communities. It is our duty and we will comply with that,” said Jimmy García Saviñón, for the National Authority of Maritime Affairs (Anamar) that carried out the study.

“The Current Status of the Banco de la Plata Reefs, Dominican Republic: April 2022 Expedition,” study was carried out by the National Authority of Maritime Affairs of the Dominican Republic (Anamar) with the participation of a multidisciplinary team that conducted a survey in a portion of the Banco de la Plata in the north of the Dominican Republic. Technicians from the Dominican Foundation for Marine Studies (Fundemar) also participated.

Anamar’s director, Jimmy García Saviñón says the study is the first of its kind and creates a baseline for future research in the Banco de la Plata.

The report calls for the creating of fishing exclusion zones and establishing a periodic monitoring program to evaluate trends of decline, recovery and/or stability in the reefs of the Banco de la Plata.

The findings of the study are not encouraging and show reefs dominated by algae between 10 and 30 meters deep, with a live coral cover of less than 12% and with coral and fish communities with poor species richness. The fish community is dominated by small herbivorous fish, i.e., less than 10 cm.

Coral bleaching is affecting the area. Climate change, overfishing, especially of protected species such as parrotfish harm the coral, along with coral diseases. The increased strength and frequency of hurricanes is said to be another reason for the deterioration of the Silver Banks.

“The findings reveal a special monitoring and management plan is necessary to control the abusive overfishing of reef fish, vital species for the control of algae growth in the reefs, with its consequent effects on the health of the benthic communities,” García Saviñón explained to Diario Libre.

He said the recent report should serve to develop effective protection policies in favor of this important place’s coral and fish communities. He called for various governmental institutions to join forces.

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Diario Libre
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22 June 2022