Kesley Gibson is a Ph.D. candidate in the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Her research focus involves migratory patterns and artificial reef habitat use of fisheries species in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, including red snapper, king mackerel, cobia, and multiple shark species. She is a Divemaster with supplemental certifications including nitrox, rescue, full face, boat, deep, night, and drysuit diving, and appeared on the Shark Week episode The Lost Cage in 2017.
“Habitat is a crucial factor in the conservation of fisheries; so much so, that state agencies and conservation groups, like the Coastal Conservation Association and Shimano, continually fund installation of artificial reefs and the monitoring of the fish that use them,” she says. “Without appropriate habitats, the abundance of fish decline, resulting in anglers struggling to obtain the same amount of catch or targeting a different species, which may be less rewarding. Reduced catch and increased effort may inversely affect the number of anglers, leading to decreased spending in economies mostly supported by the fishing industry.”