1

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.

2

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.

Coral Bleaching

Coral Bleaching

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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Coral reefs provide a range of benefits, such as food, opportunities for income and education, but not everyone has the same access to them, according to a new study conducted by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.

The researchers examined how people from 28 fishing communities in Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania and Seychelles benefit from the marine environment.

For many years conservation in developing countries has been based on the assumption that improvements in ecosystem conditions, such as increasing coral reef fish biomass, will benefit the community as a whole.

But Dr Christina Hicks, a social scientist, says this is approach is too simplistic.

“Increased supply tends to benefit the elite, not the community as a whole,” Dr Hicks says.

“We need to look at the social and economic access mechanisms that would enable a wider group of people to benefit from reefs and then develop policies based on that information,” she says.

Study co-author Professor Josh Cinner from the Coral CoE says the focus on increasing the supply of benefits isn’t enough.

“We need to pay more attention to how that benefit is distributed and how it is accessed by different people within a community,” Professor Cinner says.

The researchers argue that policy makers need a more inclusive approach to managing coral reefs, which includes a focus on improving wellbeing.

“We tend to focus on economic growth because it is easy to measure, but this should be greatly expanded to include the way people can share in the benefits that flow from reefs,” Dr Hicks says.

Paper

Social, institutional, and knowledge mechanisms mediate diverse ecosystem service benefits from coral reefs by Christina C. Hicks and Joshua E. Cinner is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/11/26/1413473111.long

Contacts

Dr Christina Hicks, +61 (0) 466 437 490 christina.hicks@jcu.edu.au

Professor Joshua Cinner, +61 (0) 417 714 138, joshua.cinner@jcu.edu.au

Eleanor Gregory, Coral CoE Media, +61 (0) 428 785 895, eleanor.gregory@jcu.edu.au

Scientists in Queensland have used historic media to measure the decline in Queensland’s pink snapper fishery, highlighting a drop of almost 90 per cent in catch rates since the 19th Century.

Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) at the University of Queensland and the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry examined thousands of newspaper articles dating back to1870 to reveal the historic catch rates for the iconic Queensland fishery.

“We found that 19th century recreational fishers would regularly catch hundreds of fish off the coast of Queensland, often in just a few hours of fishing,” says Dr Ruth Thurstan, a Research Fellow from the Coral CoE.

Combining historical data with statistical analyses allowed the researchers to calculate catch rates, which are the number of fish caught per hour fishing per day, for nearly 300 fishing trips between 1871 and 1939.

When the researchers compared the findings to contemporary fishing trips, they found that recent catch rates averaged just one-ninth of historical levels.

The old news articles have given researchers unparalleled insights into the history of the Queensland snapper fishery.

“When we searched through these old newspapers we were amazed by the level of detail they provided,” Dr Thurstan says.

“They give us a much better understanding of just how rich and productive this fishery used to be, as well as providing us with some fascinating insights into the development of offshore recreational fishing in Queensland.”

“Crucially, these newspaper articles place the modern day fishery into a longer-term perspective that isn’t available using only official records. This helps us understand the changes that have occurred in the fishery over time, and provides an additional piece of the puzzle for those managing this fishery today,” Dr Thurstan says.

Study co-author, Professor John Pandolfi, also from Coral CoE agrees.

“This is one of the most comprehensive perspectives on historical trends in catch rates for Australian fisheries ever compiled,” Professor Pandolfi says.

“We expect similar trends to be uncovered for other Australian fisheries.”

 

Paper

‘Nineteenth century narratives reveal historic catch rates for Australian snapper (Pagrus auratus)’ by Ruth H Thurstan, Alexander B Campbell and John M Pandolfi is published in the journal Fish and Fisheries.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/faf.12103/abstract

 Contacts

Dr Ruth Thurstan: +61 (0) 450 586 263 or r.thurstan@uq.edu.au;

Professor John Pandolfi: + 61 (0)7 3365 3050 or j.pandolfi@uq.edu.au

Eleanor Gregory, Communications Manager: +61 (0)7 47816067, +61 (0)428 785 895 or eleanor.gregory@jcu.edu.au

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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