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Disentangling the response of fishes to recreational fishing over 30 years within a fringing coral reef reserve network


Cresswell, AK and Langlois, TJ and Wilson, SK and Claudet, J and Thomson, DP and Renton, M and Fulton, CJ and Fisher, R and Vanderklift, MA and Babcock, RC and Stuart-Smith, RD and Haywood, MDE and Depczynski, M and Westera, M and Ayling, AM and Fitzpatrick, B and Halford, AR and McLean, DL and Pillans, RD and Cheal, AJ and Tinkler, P and Edgar, GJ and Graham, NAJ and Harvey, ES and Holmes, TH, Disentangling the response of fishes to recreational fishing over 30 years within a fringing coral reef reserve network, Biological Conservation, 237 pp. 514-524. ISSN 0006-3207 (2019) [Refereed Article]

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Crown Copyright 2019 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2019.06.023


Few studies assess the effects of recreational fishing in isolation from commercial fishing. We used meta-analysis to synthesise 4444 samples from 30 years (19872017) of fish surveys inside and outside a large network of highly protected reserves in the Ningaloo Marine Park, Western Australia, where the major fishing activity is recreational. Data were collected by different agencies, using varied survey designs and sampling methods. We contrasted the relative abundance and biomass of target and non-target fish groups between fished and reserve locations. We considered the influence of, and possible interactions between, seven additional variables: age and size of reserve, one of two reserve network configurations, reef habitat type, recreational fishing activity, shore-based fishing regulations and survey method. Taxa responded differently: the abundance and biomass inside reserves relative to outside was higher for targeted lethrinids, while other targeted (and non-targeted) fish groups were indistinguishable. Reef habitat was important for explaining lethrinid response to protection, and this factor interacted with reserve size, such that larger reserves were demonstrably more effective in the back reef and lagoon habitats. There was little evidence of changes in relative abundance and biomass of fishes with reserve age, or after rezoning and expansion of the reserve network. Our study demonstrates the complexities in quantifying fishing effects, highlighting some of the key factors and interactions that likely underlie the varied results in reserve assessments that should be considered in future reserve design and assessment.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Reef Life Survey, citizen science, MPAs, reef fish, fisheries, coral reef, Ningaloo, adaptive management, recreational fishing, Lethrinus
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:Stuart-Smith, RD (Dr Rick Stuart-Smith)
UTAS Author:Edgar, GJ (Professor Graham Edgar)
ID Code:134281
Year Published:2019
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (LP100200122)
Web of Science® Times Cited:16
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2019-08-06
Last Modified:2020-01-07

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