Goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara) aggregations and relative abundances were described and mapped through the use of fishermen's local ecological knowledge in Babitonga Bay in southern Brazil. Six well-experienced informants were asked to individually provide information about goliath grouper abundance and distribution, drawn over a satellite image of the study area, which was later overlaid and gathered into a final map. According to our informants, the goliath grouper occurs along a broad salinity and depth range, from shallow estuarine areas (less than 5 m deep) with high freshwater input (smaller individuals, up to 150 kg) to coastal marine-dominated environments (at least 35 m deep); (larger individuals more common, frequently reaching more than 300 kg). Fishermen referred to goliath groupers inhabiting hard substrates such as rocky reefs around islands and continental shores, submerged rocky outcrops and shipwrecks (juveniles and adults). At least two aggregation sites mapped (ranging from 2 to 60 individuals) could be concluded as spawning aggregation sites through evidence of high abundance and spawning activity. Priority research and conservation targets were identified and discussed for Babitonga Bay (e.g., design of a tagging experimental program and establishment of a marine protected area). Fishers' resource mapping provided a means of exchanging information among various disciplines while maintaining methodological rigor in a clear and straightforward way of presenting fishers' knowledge. The use of fishers' sketch maps is a promising tool for marine conservation in Brazil, with special regard to adaptive co-management regimes, where frequent environmental re-evaluations are needed.
Sketch maps; Traditional ecological knowledge; Spawning aggregation; Ethnoecology; Babitonga Bay