RED HIND GROUPER: BAHAMAS REEF FISH (25)
The Red Hind is one of several grouper species commonly found in Bahamas waters. Commonly for now, anyway. There is less information available about this species compared with other groupers, but sources seem agreed that it is (a) abundant and (b) IUCN listed ‘least concern’ but (c) heavily fished and (d) delicious.
Red Hind, attended by Cleaner Fish
One problem arises from the fact that Red Hinds form spawning aggregations in particular areas, making them vulnerable to fishing exploitation in those locations, and consequent population decline. Already, some of their spawning areas are protected.
Another threat comes from the degradation of coastal habitats coupled with increasing commercial and recreational fishing. Red Hinds are targeted with speargun, hook and line, fish traps and nets. They may also be by-catch of other fishing operations. Fortunately Marine Protected Areas such as the ones in Abaco waters provide localised protection but these are not found throughout the Red Hind’s range. Closed seasons have been imposed in a few areas, another conservation method that has recently been introduced in the Bahamas for the Nassau grouper.
Getting the right balance between traditional fishing for food, and stock conservation is inevitably a tricky calculation. For the Red Hind, the factors that may result in the population decline of a plentiful species are in plain sight and will continue to be monitored by the various scientific research organisations involved…
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Credits: All images Melinda Riger at Grand Bahama Scuba except (4) NOAA / Puerto Rico Univ; research from several sources, tip of the hat to SCRFA