Assessment of the sea cucumber (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea) as potential fishery resource in Banco Chinchorro, Quintana roo, Mexico
The abundance, distribution, size, structure, nutritional quality and feasibility of exploitation of a sea cucumber population, an alternative fishery resource for Banco Chinchorro (Mexican Caribbean) were evaluated. Sampling was conduced during the three main climatic seasons: rainy (September 1998), cold front (December 1998) and dry (April 1999). Five sampling sites were chosen to cover the three major habitats: seagrass (north, central), reef patches (north, south), and shallow sandy-bottoms. Three species and a hybrid were identified: Holothuria thomasi, H. mexicana, H. floridana, and H. floridana × H. mexicana. H. floridana was the most abundant (mean density = 0.12 ind m −2). Growth and natural mortality parameters, and maximum sustainable yield (MSY), were estimated using simplified protocols commonly predicated for the assessment of tropical fisheries, all assuming equilibrium conditions. Banco Chinchorro was hit by Hurricane Mitch following the first survey; estimated abundance during the second survey (after the hurricane) was only 14% of the pre-hurricane survey. Based on this study case we discuss (1) the shortcomings of methods assuming equilibrium, (2) the need for specific life-history data, and (3) the research opportunities provided by the response of populations to natural disturbances or to harvesting.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 01 January 2001
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