Degrading coral reefs bad news for commercial fishing

December 22, 2017, University of Queensland
Degrading coral reefs bad news for commercial fishing
Credit: University of Queensland

The degradation of coral reefs might have short-term benefits for some fish groups, but would be bad for fisheries long-term, according to a University of Queensland-led study.

The research, which focused on fisheries' productivity under progressive , also found that the industry may be fairly robust up until the early reef degradation stages.

However, UQ School of Biological Sciences researcher Dr. Alice Rogers said authorities need to change management practices to take advantage of the benefits.

"The loss of living corals alters the flora and fauna found in the sea which means less refuges and places to hide for reef , and more algae and invertebrates that many reef fish eat," Dr. Rogers said.

The study modelled how these changes affect coral reef communities, food webs and the potential productivity of coral reef fisheries.

"We found that initial losses of living coral, but not erosion of their structure, increased fisheries productivity in the short-term, but increases were from herbivorous fish and smaller fish which may not be the most highly valued targets," Dr. Rogers said.

"However, when the structure of the reef eroded following coral death, all benefits to the industry were lost.

"Coral health around the world is deteriorating, and that could affect the lives of tens of millions of people."

The study, in collaboration with UQ's Professor Peter Mumby of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies and Dr. Julia Blanchard of the University of Tasmania, is published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

Explore further: Degraded coral reefs will threaten the livelihoods of fishermen

More information: Alice Rogers et al. Fisheries productivity under progressive coral reef degradation, Journal of Applied Ecology (2017). DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13051

Related Stories

Care about coral reefs? Protect the 'lawnmowers'

May 20, 2016

Coral reefs provide protection for islands, billions of dollars in economic value, and a dazzling array of biodiversity. Keeping reefs healthy is an important job, and one particular group of herbivorous fish and invertebrates ...

Fish social lives may be key to saving coral reefs

April 10, 2017

The social eating habits of fish may play a central role in protecting coral reefs, according to a study from the University of California, Davis, published April 10 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of ...

Recommended for you

After a reset, Сuriosity is operating normally

February 23, 2019

NASA's Curiosity rover is busy making new discoveries on Mars. The rover has been climbing Mount Sharp since 2014 and recently reached a clay region that may offer new clues about the ancient Martian environment's potential ...

Study: With Twitter, race of the messenger matters

February 23, 2019

When NFL player Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice, the ensuing debate took traditional and social media by storm. University of Kansas researchers have ...

Solving the jet/cocoon riddle of a gravitational wave event

February 22, 2019

An international research team including astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has combined radio telescopes from five continents to prove the existence of a narrow stream of material, ...

0 comments

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.