Breaking bread with rivals leads to more fish on coral reefs

coral reef
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Cooperation is key to most successful endeavours. And, scientists find, when fishermen and women cooperate with other fishers, this can boost fish stocks on coral reefs.

Dr. Michele Barnes, a senior research fellow from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) at James Cook University (JCU), is the lead author of a study published today that looks at the relationships between competing fishers, the they hunt, and their local reefs.

"Relationships between people have important consequences for the long-term availability of the natural resources we depend on," Dr. Barnes says.

"Our results suggest that when fishers—specifically those in competition with one another—communicate and cooperate over local environmental problems, they can improve the quality and quantity of fish on coral reefs."

Co-author Prof Nick Graham, from Lancaster University (previously at JCU), adds: "Coral reefs across the world are severely degraded by climate change, the pervasive impacts of poor water quality, and heavy fishing pressure. Our findings provide important insights on how fish communities can be improved, even on the reefs where they are sought."

Dr. Barnes and her team interviewed 648 fishers and gathered underwater visual data of reef conditions across five coral fishing communities in Kenya.

They found that in the places where fishers communicated with their competitors about the fishing gear they use, hunting locations, and fishing rules, there were more fish in the sea—and of higher quality.

Co-author Dr. Jack Kittinger, Senior Director at Conservation International's Center for Oceans, says this is likely because such cooperative relationships among those who compete for a shared resource—such as fish—create opportunities to engage in mutually beneficial activities. These relationships also help build trust, which enables people to develop a shared commitment to managing resources sustainably.

"This is why communication is so critical," says Dr. Kittinger. "Developing sustained commitments, such as agreements on rules, and setting up conflict resolution mechanisms, are key to the local management of reefs."

"The study demonstrates that the positive effect of communication does not necessarily appear when just anyone in a fishing community communicates—this only applies to competing over the same species," adds co-author Dr. Örjan Bodin, from the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University.

The study advances a framework that can be applied to other complex environmental problems where environmental conditions depend on the relationships between people and nature.

Co-author Dr. Orou Gaoue, from the University of Tennessee Knoxville, emphasises this broad appeal.

"Although this study is on , the results are also relevant for terrestrial ecosystems where, in the absence of cooperation, competition for non-timber forest products can quickly lead to depletion even when locals have detailed ecological knowledge of their environment."

"Environmental problems are messy," explains Dr. Barnes. "They often involve multiple, interconnected resources and a lot of different people—each with their own unique relationship to nature."

"Understanding who should cooperate with whom in different contexts and to address different types of environmental problems is thus becoming increasingly important," she concludes.


Explore further

Ocean currents bring good news for reef fish

More information: Michele L. Barnes et al, Social-ecological alignment and ecological conditions in coral reefs, Nature Communications (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-09994-1
Journal information: Nature Communications

Citation: Breaking bread with rivals leads to more fish on coral reefs (2019, May 3) retrieved 25 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-05-bread-rivals-fish-coral-reefs.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
5 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

May 03, 2019
I want to appreciate Dr Ameola,I contracted HERPES in 2015, I was told by my doctor that there's no possible cure for HERPES. I started taking my ARV's, My CD4 was 77 and viral load was 112,450. I saw a testimonials of Dr. Ameola, also I saw a lot of testimonials about him on how he uses herbal medicine to cure HERPES. I contacted him and told him my problems, He sent to me a herbal medicine with prescription on how to be taking it and I took it for 14 days after then I went for check-up and I was cured. The medicine has NO SIDE EFFECT, there's no special diet when taking the medicine. He also cures BV, UTI, HIGH/LOW BLOOD PRESSURE,Miscarriage causes HPV, ALS, HEPATITIS B, CANCER, WART, HIV, DIABETES and lots more.You can reach him on email: ( ameolaherbalhome@gmail.com ) or WhatsApp contact him via +14158551136

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