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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.

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Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

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

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Responding to a changing world

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

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Coral Reef Studies

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University Townsville
Queensland 4811 Australia

Phone: 61 7 4781 4000
Email: info@coralcoe.org.au

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Fishing for the future of coral reefs

05
Apr 2016

New science-based fishery regulations are needed if coral reefs are to have a future in the face of climate change.

An international team, led by ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and University of Queensland researchers, has found that tighter fishery regulations are needed to preserve corals of the Caribbean.

The study shows that Caribbean coral reefs are experiencing mounting pressure from global warming, local pollution and over-fishing of herbivorous fish.

Researcher Dr Yves-Marie Bozec, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and UQ’s School of Biological Sciences , said herbivorous parrotfish were needed because they eat seaweed, which can smother coral and prevent corals from recovering.

“While several countries in the Caribbean have taken the bold step of banning the fishing of parrotfish (including Belize, Bonaire, Turks and Caicos Islands), parrotfish fisheries remain in much of the region,” Dr Bozec said.

The research team analysed the effects of fishing on parrotfish and combined this with an analysis of the role of parrotfish on coral reefs.

“We conclude that unregulated fisheries will seriously reduce the resilience of coral reefs,” Dr Bozec said.

“However, implementation of size limits and catch limits to less than 10 per cent of the fishable stock provide a far better outlook for reefs, while also allowing the fishery to persist.”

Study co-author Professor Peter Mumby from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and UQ’s School of Biological Sciences said a number of countries wanted to modify their fisheries to reduce impacts on reefs.

“What we’ve done is identify fisheries’ policies that might help achieve this,” Professor Mumby said.

The new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today, argues that science should be used to revise current fisheries practices for herbivorous fish in the Caribbean.

The authors have provided tools to help fisheries managers make such changes.

“Ultimately, the more we do to maintain healthy coral reefs, the more likely it is that fishers’ livelihoods will be sustained into the future,” Professor Mumby said.

“We already know that failure to maintain coral habitats will lead to at least a threefold reduction in future fish catches.”

Contact:

Dr Yves-Marie Bozec (y.bozec@uq.edu.au), +61 (0)432 855 758.

Images and videos:

High resolution videos and photographs are available in this folder: https://goo.gl/ZDgtnA.

Alternatively, contact Professor Peter Mumby at p.j.mumby@uq.edu.au, +61 (0)449 811 589.

Paper:

Yves-Marie Bozec, Shay O’Farrell, J. Henrich Bruggemann, Brian E. Luckhurst, and Peter J. Mumby (2016). Tradeoffs between fisheries harvest and the resilience of coral reefs. PNAS. doi:10.1073/pnas.1601529113
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/03/31/1601529113.full

 

Source: https://www.uq.edu.au/news/article/2016/04/fishing-future-of-coral-reefs

The stoplight parrotfish, Sparisoma viride; one of the most popular fisheries species but also one of most ecologically-important fish on Caribbean reefs. Credit: Peter Mumby.
The stoplight parrotfish, Sparisoma viride; one of the most popular fisheries species but also one of most ecologically-important fish on Caribbean reefs. Credit: Peter Mumby.

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Coral Reef Studies

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University Townsville
Queensland 4811 Australia

Phone: 61 7 4781 4000
Email: info@coralcoe.org.au