Fish Don’t Care About Boundaries on Maps

Written by on July 10, 2015 in Fish, Policy & Ocean Law

A new paper highlights the importance of multinational management practices when it comes to the environment.

Gag grouper. Photo credit: T. Potts, NOAA.

Gag grouper. Photo credit: T. Potts, NOAA.

Researchers from Florida State University used a popular seafood choice, gag grouper, as the perfect example of fish that ignore boundaries. Gag grouper are found off the coast of Florida in the GUlf of Mexico and near the Campeche Bank off Mexico. While they may previously have been considered distinct populations, the researchers used DNA analysis to determine that this is not the case — the populations are not distinct groups and, in fact, they rely on each other for reproduction.

“From the scientific perspective, this study suggests that ecosystem and species-level migration processes affecting population dynamics in marine environments such as the Gulf of Mexico may be operating at a larger scale than typically appreciated or examined,” assistant professor at California State University and former FSU graduate student Nathaniel K. Jue said in a news release.

From a political perspective, the results demonstrate that “biological systems transcend political boundaries” and management efforts need to reflect that. Harvest of gag grouper is monitored by NOAA in the U.S., but those regulations don’t necessarily match with regulations in Mexico.

“This work helps us better understand an important fishery species’ biology and should contribute to improving our ability to make fisheries management decisions that help keep this important economic and ecological resource around for a long time,” said director of the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory, Felicia Coleman.

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Copyright © 2015 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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