PIMS Shines at the 76th Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute Conference

Throughout November 6th-10th 2023, The 76th Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI) Conference was held in Nassau, The Bahamas at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort, and Perry Institute for Marine Science (PIMS) was well represented by staff members who traveled from near and far to attend.

People of PIMS in attendance at the 76th GCFI Conference at Atlantis Ballroom, Nassau The Bahamas.

In 1947 GCFI was founded, “to promote the exchange of current information on the use and management of marine resources in the Gulf and Caribbean region”. GCFI brings together all relevant stakeholders involved in marine resource management such as scientists, government officials, and the commercial sector to network and discuss relevant environmental issues affecting them all. 

The 76th GCFI conference was hosted by The Bahamas’ Forestry Unit who organized a full week of events filled with informative sessions, panel discussions, poster presentations, group socials and even field trips. As a growing organization with members stationed throughout islands of The Bahamas and cities of the United States of America, PIMS staff were all ecstatic to come together to participate and support each other at the conference. The main focus of the event were the informative sessions that were grouped into broader categories like governance, fisheries, climate change, communication and education and invertebrates. In these sessions scientists from over 38 countries took stage to present their project studies, creating opportunities to share knowledge and encourage future collaborations. Our scientists Dr. Karlisa Callwood, Dr. Valeria Pizarro, Dr. Krista Sherman, Candice Brittain, Makeda Serju, Will Greene and Sam Marshall all gave riveting presentations about the work they do at PIMS, covering a wide range of subjects from local stone crab fisheries to the use of drone technology in ecosystem monitoring. PIMS’ Community Conservation Education & Action (CCEA) Manager Candice Brittain stated, “Participating in GCFI’s 76th conference as both an attendee and presenter provided a platform to disseminate our research, education, and community engagement initiatives pertinent to marine research and conservation in The Bahamas. This event provided an opportunity for new insights, professional networking, and fostering collaborative partnerships for future work. The conference spotlighted significant research and conservation endeavors within The Bahamas and Caribbean region and facilitated discussions among stakeholders committed to addressing the challenges facing our marine ecosystems, acting as a catalyst for action and a commitment to sustaining our oceans’ resources.” 

Poster presentations were also given by Danielle Cartwright, Meghyn Fountain, Taylor Walters, Valeria, Natalia, Silia, Will, Gimel, Karlisa and Gabrianne. As a first time presenter Meghyn exclaimed, “I was nervous, but so proud to be able to share our work with such a supportive community filled with so many great scientists. I’m already excited to present next year.” 

As a part of the Reef Fisheries session Dr. Krista Sherman, PIMS Fisheries Senior Scientist, presents her studies on ‘Temporal & Spatial Patterns of Nassau Grouper in The Bahamas’, a culturally and economically valued marine species.
Dr. Karlisa Callwood, PIMS Director of CCEA, displays her poster presentation on co-designing restoration for blacked mangrove creeks in Andros.

 Conferences like GCFI are exceptionally valuable because they create spaces for collaborators to come together and exchange information, ideas, and technology all being used to help better manage, protect, and restore our natural resources. Moreso, attendees have the opportunity to network amongst other brilliant colleagues of the field and create long lasting career connections. For the duration of the conference the ballroom’s main hall was lined with table displays for the many organizations in attendance to distribute information, resources and even sample products. 

In the main hall Research Assistant Meghyn Fountain engages with conference attendees, sharing informative resources like the Mangrove Report Card and Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease infographics produced by PIMS.

The freeflow area allowed PIMS staff to reconnect with local partners including Bahamas National Trust, The Nature Conservancy and the Cape Eleuthera Institute. PIMS Coral Technician Duran Mitchell stated, “my first GCFI was a great experience that allowed me to learn about so many different research projects happening in my own country. I had the chance to engage with many organizations I would like to work with in the future.” 

PIMS is grateful for the opportunity to participate in events like GCFI and will continue supporting and contributing to collaboration, capacity building, and innovation in marine science throughout the region.

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