Important risks to the preservation of the national park Los Roques
Fishing is another great risk for the biodiversity of the national park. For centuries this activity was done in the archipelago, but the arrival of motor engines in the 50's, the use of synthetic fiber in fishing and the use ice allowed for a greater exploitation of resources at a more efficient and a greater rate. Towards the late 80's the traditional Botuto (King Conch) fishing was banned due to the low densities it showed. Unfortunately seizures by park officials of Botuto caught illegally are still common.
Preliminary studies on lobster fishing have indicated that the death rate by fishing is surpassing recommended levels. Over fishing of this resource will cause losses to fishermen who obtain to great deal of their profits from this treasured crustacean. It is clear that once lobster is not available, just as it happened with Botuto, fishermen will turn to other species and thus repeating the same cycle with other elements in the park.
Likewise fish were exploited in the archipelago from the arrival of the first visitors. At the beginning fish was used for the consumption of locals and another part was salted to be taken to other places. As from the 50´s the catch was intensified due to technological advances. However, since the creation of the park the tendency has been to reduce the more efficient arts and of bigger impact used frequently by fishermen who come from nearby Margarita Island and allow the more elementary ones, for the benefit of local fishermen.
The lack of reliable statistics on the activity of fishermen does allow for an evaluation of these resources. Nevertheless, the criteria for the ordaining of fish resources is normally aimed at keeping the population at levels of abundance that will allow for bigger catch in a sustainable way.
In the case of Los Roques we find a coral ecosystem of enormous complexity whereby the relations between the different elements which make it up are hardly known. It is known for example that the decrease of Caribbean hedgehogs had important repercussions in the coral communities due to the decrease in consumption of algae by hedgehogs and these compete with the coral for space. It is also known that some fish are equally important in the control of algae, but it is unknown the greater implications that the decrease in numbers of these fish may have on the reef community.
The solution to this problem lies in the evaluation of the fish resource and a assessment of the efficiency of the existing ordaining measures, and the agreement on behalf of the fishermen that the measures will be obeyed.