Fisheries Research & Conservation Program

Our goal is sustainable fisheries and healthy ecosystems that support biodiversity, livelihoods, ecosystem services and promote resilience.


What We Do

We collaborate with local and international scientists and other key stakeholders on applied conservation research projects to assess marine fish species, support effective fisheries policy and governance, and to promote behavioral change for ongoing conservation management in The Bahamas and Caribbean.


Sustainable fisheries and healthy ecosystems that support biodiversity, livelihoods, ecosystem services and promote resilience.


  • Reduce scientific knowledge gaps for important marine fish species (e.g. groupers, snappers, parrotfish) and emerging fisheries
  • Build technical capacity for fisheries research and monitoring
  • Develop and implement science-based conservation management plans for marine species
  • Work with local governments, non-governmental organisation (NGO) partners and relevant stakeholders to provide guidance for the creation or refinement of fishery regulations, marine spatial planning, monitoring andecosystem-based management
  • Increase public awareness regarding the need for improved conservation management of fisheries and marine resources

Why Is This Research Important?

Many commercially important fishery species are under threats that endanger their long-term viability. We seek to better understand the nature of species-specific behaviors within their habitat and assess the impact human intervention is having upon marine populations. This will allow us to better manage all species, especially economically important species, by protecting essential habitats, managing fish stocks and, ensuring that areas open to fishing are informed about practices that will sustain marine species populations and human livelihoods.


Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus) form large spawning aggregations where hundreds to thousands of fish meet to spawn annually. While adult Nassau grouper typically rarely move more than a few hundred meters to feed and find shelter, they migrate hundreds of kilometers to spawning sites. This project aims to understand how adult migrations link home ranges and spawning sites throughout The Bahamas.

Globally, Nassau grouper populations are in decline and the species is classified as critically endangered. This research uses population genomics to evaluate changes to genetic diversity, effective population size, and to understand how populations are genetically structured and connected. Answers to these questions can help guide stock management and assist with population recovery.

Understanding the perceptions and behaviors of different stakeholders can generate key insights into how fisheries can be successfully managed. The purpose of this research is to assess stakeholder knowledge regarding the status and management of the Bahamian Nassau grouper fishery to assist with management and conservation efforts.

Stock assessments are a critical component for managing fisheries, especially those that can be easily overexploited. The Perry Institute for Marine Science is partnering with scientists from the Shedd Aquarium and Florida International University with support of the Department of Marine Resources to conduct stock assessments for Nassau grouper in The Bahamas.

As herbivores, parrotfish are important for maintaining healthy coral reefs. Densities of large parrotfishes are greater in The Bahamas than in other parts of the Caribbean. This project examines movement patterns of parrotfish using acoustic telemetry in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park – a no-take MPA in The Bahamas.

Declining populations of popular fishery species in accessible areas is leading to the harvest of parrotfish. PIMS is investigating the extent and value of this emerging fishery and evaluating the impacts of parrotfish harvest on reef health. Combined with ecological data, this information will help to determine if and how a commercial fishery can be developed and sustainably managed.

Commercially important species like groupers and snappers form fish spawning aggregations (FSAs) to reproduce or breed. Monitoring the status of FSAs is critical to assess the health of fish populations and to evaluate the effectiveness of management strategies. Standardized monitoring techniques are being used to map FSAs, document spawning stock biomass and spawning behaviour at reported sites throughout The Bahamas. PIMS is also pilot testing other monitoring and research techniques with scientific partners from the Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organization, HJR Reefscaping and Florida International University.

Antillogorgia elisabethae (formerly Pseudopterogorgia elisabethae) is a gorgonian or soft branching octocoral that is used extensively by cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries because of its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. PIMS is executing pilot 3 of the Access Benefit Sharing (ABS) project to develop sustainable harvest strategies for A. elisabethae in collaboration with the University of Buffalo.

Alignment with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Our Fisheries Research & Conservation Program aligns with UN SDG 14– “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development”.



Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are an effective tool for managing and replenishing fisheries, protecting marine ecosystems, and building coral reef resilience when designed properly. To this end, we have worked with local partners throughout the Caribbean region to develop Ecological and Socioeconomic criteria for designating MPAs for the Mesoamerican Reef and The Bahamas. We also conduct rapid ecological assessments (REAs) to select sites for protection, develop management plans and evaluate MPA efficacy in The Bahamas and throughout the Caribbean region.

Rapid Ecological Assessments (REAs) are an effective tool for assessing the health of marine ecosystems and populations of key species to inform restoration and management. PIMS and its conservation partners have been active in providing guidance for the designation of MPAs by conducting REAs of coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds and other habitats. Results from REAs can also help guide reef and mangrove restoration efforts and stock assessments for key species.

Science-based management is not enough. Communication and outreach are essential to affect behavioral change that supports policies aimed at protecting fisheries, ecosystems and ensuring food security. To address this, the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC) Spawning Aggregations Working Group (SAWG) is currently developing a regional awareness strategy and campaign for the Wider Caribbean to protect and manage FSAs – including those of Nassau grouper. In addition to supporting this regional initiative, PIMS is partnering with BelugaSmile Productions (BSP) to develop a communication strategy and outreach materials for Nassau grouper in The Bahamas.

Mangroves provide habitat at a vulnerable stage in the life cycle of many fishery species. Human impacts including pollution and coastal development can adversely affect the functionality of these essential nursery areas. We work with conservation partners to assess and restore the condition of mangroves so that they can continue to support biodiversity, fisheries, and provide shoreline protection for coastal communities.

Healthy coral reefs require diverse and healthy populations of herbiviores like parrotfish. These fish, however, are being increasingly threatened by fishing. PIMS is seeking to elevate the profile of parrotfish, to promote their conservation. This campaign will not only share the ecological importance of this species, but will also encourage consumers to eat other fish to allow parrotfish to continue supporting reef health and resiliency.


If you or your organization would like to collaborate or assist with one of our projects, please contact Dr. Krista Sherman via email at krista.sherman@perryinstitute.org.


Sherman, K.D., Paris, J.R., King, R.A., Moore, K.A., Dahlgren, C.P., Knowles, L.C., Stump, K., Tyler, C.R., Stevens, J.R. (2020) RAD-seq analysis and in situ monitoring of Nassau grouper reveal fine-scale population structure and origins of aggregating fish. Frontiers in Marine Science 7:157, doi: 10.3389/fmars.2020.00157

Sherman, K.D., Shultz A.D., Dahlgren, C.P., Thomas, C., Brooks, E., Brooks, A., Brumbaugh, D.R., Gittens, L., Murchie, K. (2018) Contemporary and emerging fisheries in The Bahamas – conservation and management challenges, achievements and future directions. Fisheries Management and Ecology 25:319-331, doi: 10.1111/fme.12299

Paris, J.R., Sherman, K.D., Bell, E., Boulenger, C., Delord, C., El-Mahdi, M.B.M., Fairfield, E.A., Griffiths, A.M., Gutmann Roberts, C., Hedger, R,D., Holman, L.E., Hooper, L.H., Humphries, N.E., Katsiadaki, I., King, R.A., Lemopoulos, A., Payne, C.J., Peirson, G., Richter, K.K., Taylor, M.I., Trueman, C.N., Hayden, B., Stevens, J.R. (2018) Understanding and managing fish populations: keeping the toolbox fit for purpose. Journal of Fish Biology 92:727–751, doi:10.1111/jfb.13549

Sherman, K.D., King, R.A., Dahlgren, C.P., Simpson, S.D., Stevens, J.R., Tyler, C.R. (2017) Historical processes and contemporary anthropogenic activities influence genetic population dynamics of Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus) within The Bahamas. Frontiers in Marine Science 4:393, doi:10.3389/fmars.2017.00393

Stump, K., Dahlgren, C., Sherman, K., Knapp, C.R. (2017) Nassau grouper migration patterns during full moon suggest collapsed historic fish spawning aggregation and evidence of an undocumented aggregation. Bulletin of Marine Science 93:375–389

Dahlgren, C. P., Buch, K., Rechisky, E., & Hixon, M. A. (2016) Multi-year tracking of Nassau grouper spawning migrations. Marine and Coastal Fisheries 8:522–535

Sherman, K.D., Dahlgren, C.P., Stevens, J.R., Tyler, C.R. (2016) Integrating Population Biology into Conservation Management for Endangered Nassau Grouper (Epinephelus striatus). Marine Ecology Progress Series 554:263-280

Sherman, K.D., Dahlgren, C.P., Brumbaugh, D.R., Knowles, L.C. (2013) Tourism and coral reef health in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. Proceedings of the 65th Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute. GCFI 65:234-242

See All Publications


Dahlgren, C., Sherman, K. (2020) Preliminary assessment of Hurricane Dorian’s impacts on coral reefs of Abaco and Grand Bahama. Report submitted to the Government of The Bahamas. 28pp

Dahlgren, C., Sherman, K. (2019) An assessment of the queen conch resources of the East Grand Bahama National Park. Nassau, The Bahamas. 9pp

Patterson-Maura, O. Sherman, K.(2018) Nassau Grouper Policy Brief. Nassau, The Bahamas. 7pp

Anderson, L., Dahlgren, C., Knowles, L., Jupp, L., Cant-Woodside, S., Albury-Smith, S., McKinney-Lambert, C., Lundy, A. (2018) 20 by 20 White paper: Marine protection plan for expanding The Bahamas Marine Protected Areas Network to meet The Bahamas 2020 declaration. 137 pp

Sherman. K.D., Dahlgren, C.P., Knowles, L.R. (2018) Nassau Grouper (Epinephelus striatus) Conservation Management Plan for The Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Prepared for the Department of Marine Resources, Nassau, Bahamas

Knowles, J. E., Green, A. L., Dahlgren, C., Arnett, F., Knowles, L. (2017) Expanding The Bahamas marine protected area network to protect 20% of the marine and coastal environment by 2020: a gap analysis. 66 pp

Green, A., Knowles, J., Dahlgren, C., Arnett, F., Knowles, L., Albury-Smith, S. (2016). Bahamas protected: Realizing the 2020 goal to effectively manage and expand Bahamian marine protected areas. A report prepared for the Ministry of the Environment for The Bahamas on the ecological gap analysis workshop held in Nassau, New Providence (September 13-14th, 2016) The Nature Conservancy, Bahamas National Trust, and Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation, Nassau, Bahamas. 41 pp

Dahlgren, C., Sherman, K., Lang, J., Kramer, P.R., Marks, K. (2016) Bahamas Coral Reef Report Card Volume 1: 2011-2013.

Dahlgren, C., Kramer, P.R., Lang, J., Sherman, K.(2014) New Providence and Rose Island, Bahamas Coral Reef Report Card.

Dahlgren, C. (2014) Review of the benefits of no-take zones. A report to the Wildlife Conservation Society 104 pp.

Sherman, K.D., Knowles, L.C. Anderson, L.S. (2014) Rapid ecological assessment for the expansion of Lucayan National Park. Report for The Bahamas National Trust. 34 pp

Brumbaugh, D.R., Dahlgren, C.P. (2014) Monitoring program for The Bahamas National Protected Area System. Methods for assessing the ecological condition of coral reefs, seagrasses and mangroves.  (ed.) Sherman, K.D. Report submitted to the BEST Commission under the GEF FSP Pilot 3 Demonstration Project “Tourism and coral reef health in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park”. 22 pp

See All Reports

Follow Us On Social Media

Perry Institute for Marine Science

Nassau Grouper 242


Through your support, Perry Institute for Marine Science can continue to protect our marine environment.