After two years of virtual conferences, we were delighted to attend the 75th anniversary meeting of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI) in-person this past November! This annual conference provides a platform for a wide range of stakeholders, including fishers, marine resource managers, scientists, students and policymakers, to come together and discuss the challenges and opportunities posed by key environmental issues in the region.

Hosted in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, the theme for GCFI75 was “Understanding connectivity of coastal and estuarine ecosystems: Highlighting successes and learning from challenges”. Sessions included:

·   Small Scale fisheries

·   Linking the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture to Sustainable Blue Economy Development in the Gulf and Caribbean Region

·   Reef Fisheries

·   Fish Spawning Aggregations

·   Socioeconomics & Governance

·   Living with Sargassum: Current Scientific Perspectives and Future Outlook for Fisheries, Coastal Managers and Entrepreneurs

·   Demersal and Pelagic Fisheries

·   Emerging Issues (climate change, marine litter, invasive species, stony coral tissue loss disease)

·   Invertebrates & Aquaculture

·   Elasmobranchs

·   Communication

·   Science & Innovation.

The Perry Institute for Marine Science (PIMS)’ fisheries research was featured in three sessions including Small Scale Fisheries, Invertebrates & Aquaculture and Communication. PIMS was represented by Senior Scientist, Dr. Krista Sherman who presented key findings from the recent publication examining “The Status of Parrotfish Populations on Coral Reefs Around New Providence & Rose Island” in the Small Scale Fisheries session. PIMS’ data from assessments of queen conch stocks around East Grand Bahama was shared as part of Bahamas National Trust Science Officer, Jewel Beneby’s presentation on “Community Based Approaches to Queen Conch Management in The Bahamas” in the Invertebrates & Aquaculture session. Finally, Sepp Haukebo (Environmental Defense Fund) presented results from our recent collaborative project “Participatory Assessment of Climate Vulnerability in Caribbean Recreational Fisheries” during the session on Communication.

Additional representatives from The Bahamas included scientific and conservation partners from the Cape Eleuthera Institute, Eric Schneider and Candace Brittain who presented on their new stone crab fishery project and Prescott Smith (Bahamas Sportfishing Conservation Association) who was awarded the 2021 Gladding Memorial Award. The Minister of the Environment & Natural Resources, Hon. Vaughn Miller, Acting Director of Forestry, Danielle Hanek, Fayne Thompson and Gilbert Deal (Ministry of the Environment & Natural Resources) were also in attendance to congratulate Prescot Smith on his achievement.

Recordings from the GCFI75 can be accessed via GCFI’s YouTube channel.

To learn more about fisheries research at PIMS visit the Fisheries Research & Conservation Program on our website and follow us on social media via @perryinstituteformarinescience.

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