Abstract: Recognition of the range of anthropogenic stressors presently affecting marine fisheries and the failure of many management strategies has led to a shift towards an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM). Effective application of this holistic, place-based approach requires knowledge of ecologically appropriate spatial scales for management; however, these are often poorly understood for important fisheries species on coral reef fishes, such as groupers. Many species of grouper form transient spawning aggregations, where tens to thousands of individuals converge for the purpose of reproduction. This study will address major knowledge gaps currently impeding the effective implementation of EAFM on species that aggregate to spawn by quantifying juvenile habitat requirements, delineating catchment areas (i.e. the total area from which all individuals are drawn to an aggregation), and directly measuring larval dispersal patterns for two threatened species of grouper, Epinephelus fuscoguttatus and E. polyphekadion. Additionally, this study will, for the first time, compare this full suite of ecologically appropriate spatial scales for management with the spatial scales of existing customary marine tenure systems, thereby directly evaluating their suitability as frameworks for implementing an EAFM.
Biography: Since completing his Bachelor of Marine Studies (Hons) at the University of Queensland in 2009, Peter has endeavoured to spend as much time as possible in the water. He is currently undertaking a PhD at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, under the supervision of Dr Glenn Almany, Dr Joshua Cinner, Dr Richard Hamilton and Prof. John Pandolfi, striving to better understand key ecological processes of fishes which aggregate to spawn, and their implications for management.