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Fishing-gear restrictions and biomass gains for coral reef fishes in marine protected areas


Campbell, SJ and Edgar, GJ and Stuart-Smith, RD and Soler, G and Bates, AE, Fishing-gear restrictions and biomass gains for coral reef fishes in marine protected areas, Conservation Biology, 32, (2) pp. 401-410. ISSN 0888-8892 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2017 Society for Conservation Biology

DOI: doi:10.1111/cobi.12996


Considerable empirical evidence supports recovery of reef fish populations with fishery closures. In countries where full exclusion of people from fishing may be perceived as inequitable, fishing‐gear restrictions on nonselective and destructive gears may offer socially relevant management alternatives to build recovery of fish biomass. Even so, few researchers have statistically compared the responses of tropical reef fisheries to alternative management strategies. We tested for the effects of fishery closures and fishing gear restrictions on tropical reef fish biomass at the community and family level. We conducted 1,396 underwater surveys at 617 unique sites across a spatial hierarchy within 22 global marine ecoregions that represented 5 realms. We compared total biomass across local fish assemblages and among 20 families of reef fishes inside marine protected areas (MPAs) with different fishing restrictions: no‐take, hook‐and‐line fishing only, several fishing gears allowed, and sites open to all fishing gears. We included a further category representing remote sites, where fishing pressure is low. As expected, full fishery closures, (i.e., no‐take zones) most benefited community‐ and family‐level fish biomass in comparison with restrictions on fishing gears and openly fished sites. Although biomass responses to fishery closures were highly variable across families, some fishery targets (e.g., Carcharhinidae and Lutjanidae) responded positively to multiple restrictions on fishing gears (i.e., where gears other than hook and line were not permitted). Remoteness also positively affected the response of community‐level fish biomass and many fish families. Our findings provide strong support for the role of fishing restrictions in building recovery of fish biomass and indicate important interactions among fishing‐gear types that affect biomass of a diverse set of reef fish families.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:reef life survey, citizen science, visual census, adaptive management, conservation planning, fisheries, global ecology
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Edgar, GJ (Professor Graham Edgar)
UTAS Author:Stuart-Smith, RD (Dr Rick Stuart-Smith)
UTAS Author:Soler, G (Mr German Soler Alarcon)
ID Code:125542
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:28
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2018-04-23
Last Modified:2018-11-15

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