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Giant Sea Bass (Stereolepis gigas)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 192521063

Unveiling the Ecology of Giant Sea Bass (Stereolepis gigas): Generating knowledge to inform management of a critically endangered fish species.

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 192521063) - Giant Sea Bass - Awarded $11,500 on July 18, 2019

Giant Sea Bass (Stereolepis gigas) is the largest coastal bony-fish present in Baja California (Mexico) and California (US) waters, and a critically endangered species with immense cultural and ecological value. Through the collaboration of scientists, as well as local fishing communities, government and stakeholders this research program will draw on local knowledge and specialized scientific expertise to inform our understanding of this iconic species.

1. Use genetic, stable isotope, and tagging methods to determine connectivity between GSBs across different fishing cooperatives, regional areas, and national boundaries. Fishing cooperatives manage their own spatial areas in Mexico. The extent to which fish travel between these areas can influence their susceptibility of being caught. The same relationship exists on a larger scale for GSBs crossing the US-Mexico border. Understanding the scale at which GSBs move and interact will help determine the size of potential spatial reserves.

2. Use field surveys and novel laboratory techniques to identify regions in Baja California that are especially important to GSBs, such as spawning and nursery habitats. This will help to identify candidate areas for marine reserves and/or seasonal closures of the fishery.

3. Using underwater filmography, be the first to document spawning in the wild and confirm the spawning season. This information will help identify the ideal time-range for any potential seasonal closures of the fishery around spawning aggregation sites.

4. Develop a permanent fishery monitoring program in selected fishing communities to obtain accurate records and estimate the reliability of official fishery records. Strengthen relationships with local fishing communities to gain support for our research and efforts to conserve GSBs.

Project 192521063 location - Mexico, North America