People and ecosystems

Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.


Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution


Responding to a changing world

Advancing the fundamental understanding of the key processes underpinning reef resilience.

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Coral Reef Studies

From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

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The contribution of locally managed marine areas to small-scale fisheries management and food security – a Solomon Islands case study


Thursday Nov 29th; 15.00-16.00

Building 19 (new Centre building) Room #106, JCU, Townsville; with live video-link to UQ GCI Boardroom
Philippa Cohen, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University. 

Abstract: Small-scale fisheries support the livelihoods and food security of millions of people worldwide, and if well managed can make significant contributions to human and socio-economic development.  Community-based and collaborative strategies (i.e. co-management) are now a mainstream approach to address challenges faced in managing small-scale fisheries.  However, empirical studies that systematically demonstrate the benefits of co-management for multi-species fisheries and food security are lacking.  I present a Solomon Islands case study to address the overarching question; are co-managed marine areas (termed LMMAs in the Pacific) contributing to small-scale fisheries management and food security? Periodically-harvested reef closures are a prominent management measure embedded within LMMAs.  Using an interdisciplinary approach, I examined the effectiveness of four periodically-harvested closures for controlling fishing effort, and maintaining and improving catch rates and yields. I found that total effort and total harvested biomass from closures was low to moderate compared to reefs continuously open to fishing.  Effort was not significantly displaced onto open fishing grounds due to the small size of closures.  CPUE was significantly higher from two out of four case closures, and for three out of four fishing methods compared with CPUE on open reefs.  I did not find quantitative evidence of significant fisheries depletion by declines in CPUE through the opening period, however interviews with fishers suggested that depletion of invertebrates was substantial.  Duration and frequency of openings was highly variable, but in all cases decisions to harvest were made at the community level, and generally based on immediate social or economic needs.  My research suggests periodically-harvested closures achieve short term benefits via restricting effort and increasing efficiency of harvests, yet long term fisheries benefits may be threatened by rising demand and a lack of concurrently employed fisheries regulations.  Using social network analysis alongside qualitative techniques, I find that there are geographic, logistical and institutional barriers to improving and extending localised and small scale advances of LMMAs for fisheries management. I discuss the implications of my results for fisheries contributions to household and national food security

Biography: Pip is from Tasmania where she completed her undergrad, honours and first three years of her career in fisheries research.  Pip then escaped the cold of Tassie to the tropical Pacific, living in Tonga, Fiji and Solomon Islands for the next five years.  Pip commenced her PhD candidature at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in 2009 under the supervision of Simon Foale, Louisa Evans and Terry Hughes


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