Dr. Arlenie Perez, Assistant Professor in the Natural Resources Management (NRM) program in the Science Department at the University of Belize (UB) was recently appointed as the ERI Marine Research Fellow. Prior to attending the National Taiwan Oceanic University in 2006 to obtain her PhD in Marine Affairs and Resource Management, Dr. Perez completed two years as a Lecturer at UB. Having completed her studies in 2010, she returned to Belize and to UB’s Department of Science. The fellowship at ERI will enable Dr. Perez to pursue a marine research project of national importance in collaboration with the ERI, while maintaining her position in the Science Department and the NRM program. Dr. Perez has chosen to focus her research on the sea cucumber fishery since fishing of non-traditional marine species is now on the increase.
Dr. Perez is expected to take a period of three years to complete her fellowship. During the three years she will be supported through the Oak funded project being implemented by the ERI with supplemental funding from outside sources for the sea cucumber rearing pilot phase of her project. According to Dr. Perez, “The goal of this investigation is to establish a baseline on the current status, distribution and abundance of sea cucumbers in Belize with the ultimate goal of investigating the potential of sustainable sea cucumber mariculture in Belize.” With the completion of this research, more will be known about sea cucumbers as it relates to their biology and ecology. Dr. Perez plans to have her results published in peer reviewed journals and to present her findings to the environmental/conservation community of Belize. Dr. Perez’s findings will also serve as a valuable reference for the Fisheries Department in the future development and management of the sea cucumber fishery.