Sustainable fishing practices produce local rewards

Mar 28, 2013
Sustainable fishing practices produce local rewards
The large canoe with the canopy in the right of the photo was used by the research team in Nov. 2010. It served as a floating research station that was anchored at the sampled coral grouper spawning aggregation for 16 days. The research team ate, slept and processed samples on this canoe. Credit: Almany et. al, Current Biology

Communities that act locally to limit their fish catches will reap the rewards of their action, as will their neighbors. That's the conclusion of a study reported on March 28 in the Cell Press journal Current Biology of the highly sought-after fish known as squaretail coral grouper living in five community-owned reef systems in Papua New Guinea.

"We found that many larvae that were produced by the managed adults return to that same , which means that the same fishers that agree to regulate their catch benefit from their actions," said Glenn Almany of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral at James Cook University. "Although we've been telling fishers for quite some time that they would benefit from protecting some of their adult fishes, we couldn't prove it because it was difficult to track where larvae end up."

Squaretail coral grouper are especially vulnerable to overfishing because they gather in large numbers to reproduce. Fishers know exactly when and where to go fishing. In order to track where young coral grouper produced by those aggregations end up, Almany and his colleagues applied genetic parentage analysis to adults from a single managed spawning aggregation and to juveniles in that tenure area and four others along a 75-kilometer stretch of coastline.

Within the primary area of the study, 17 to 25 percent of juveniles were produced by the focal aggregation, the researchers found. In the four neighboring tenure areas, 6 to 17 percent of juveniles were from the aggregation. The researchers predict from their data that half of all coral grouper young settle within 14 kilometers of the spawning site following their 25-day larval period.

"Over that time, they could certainly travel a lot farther," Almany said. "The fact that many don't was very surprising."

It also means that both local and cooperative management actions can provide fishery benefits to communities over small spatial scales, which should help to inspire local action, the researchers say.

"This study can empower coastal communities throughout the Coral Triangle—the area of greatest marine biodiversity—to make fishery management decisions that they can be confident will benefit them," Almany said.

The fish will be the better for it, too.

Explore further: PacifiCorp Energy pleads guilty in bird deaths (Update)

More information: Dispersal of Grouper Larvae Drives Local Resource Sharing in a Coral Reef Fishery, Current Biology, 28 March 2013. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.03.006

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Naive fish easy targets for spear fishers

Nov 13, 2012

(Phys.org)—Big fish that have grown up in marine reserves do not seem to know enough to avoid fishers armed with spear guns waiting outside the reserve.

Coral 'network' can protect Asia-Pac fish stocks

Feb 22, 2011

An international scientific team has shown that strong links between the corals reefs of the south China sea, West Pacific and Coral Triangle hold the key to preserving fish and marine resources in the Asia-Pacific ...

One solution to global overfishing found

Mar 19, 2012

A study by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the ARC Centre for Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and other groups on more than 40 coral reefs in the Indian and Pacific Oceans indicates that "co-management"—a ...

One-quarter of grouper species being fished to extinction

May 09, 2012

Groupers, a family of fishes often found in coral reefs and prized for their quality of flesh, are facing critical threats to their survival. As part of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) ...

Recommended for you

Study finds tropical fish moving into temperate waters

Dec 19, 2014

Tropical herbivorous fish are beginning to expand their range into temperate waters – likely as a result of climate change – and a new international study documents the dramatic impact of the intrusion ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.