Envisioning the past, present and future of the sponge fishery of The Bahamas

A target of commercial fisheries for more than a century in The Bahamas and worldwide, sponges of the genera Hippospongia and Spongia are used primarily as bath and cleaning products as well as in ceramics and painting. At its peak, the sponge fishery was the primary industry in The Bahamas and was ranked third globally. However, the history of sponging in The Bahamas is riddled with periods of fantastic growth, overexploitation, hurricanes, widespread disease and population collapse, and even the local extinction of one species of sponge. I aim to reconstruct the sponge fisheries of The Bahamas from its inception to present-day in order to: 1) create a more complete baseline of the fishery, which can be used to inform current and future management decisions, 2) to identify major drivers of change and stability in sponge landings through time, 3) to develop a dynamic, predictive model for sponges landings, and 4) to identify at what level we would need to allow sponges to recover in order to obtain maximum sustainable yield.

See the link below for a brief webinar (starting at 50:20) outlining my current research on reconstructing the sponge fishery in The Bahamas.