New research in Kenya finds sweet spot for harvesting reef fish

phys.org | 6/13/2018 | Staff
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An age-old challenge of determining the right amount of fish to harvest from the sea has finally been overcome with the creation of a new biomass-yield model that captures all the necessary factors for accuracy, according to a new WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) study.

The study titled "Multicriteria estimate of coral reef fishery sustainability" appears online in the journal Fish and Fisheries.

Volume - Reefs - Ecosystems - Maximum - Yield

Knowing the highest volume of fish that can be taken from coral reefs without harming these ecosystems (known as the maximum sustainable yield) has been elusive for many reasons. Among the largest difficulties has been determining accurate estimates of recovery rates of coral reef fish populations that have been fished. Another has been confirming predictions through long-term study of the stability of coral reef catches.

A 20-year study undertaken by WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) appears to have filled these gaps, capturing information on fishing effort, yields, reef ecology, and the previously missing variables of accurate recovery rate estimates and coral reef catch stability. These new findings have been plugged into a mathematical model that can now accurately predict actual catches, giving confidence to the new numbers.

Variables - Recovery - Fish - Reefs - Fishing

"It took so long because the missing variables required studying the recovery of fish in reefs where all fishing was banned, as well as measuring fish catches long enough to know if their catches were stable," said Dr. Tim McClanahan, the study's sole author and a Senior Conservation Scientist for WCS. "Both bits of information required 20 years of field studies to be confident in the numbers and their conclusions."

Fisher in the waters of coastal Kenya. Credit: T. McClanahan/WCS.

Reef - Systems - Populations - Ecosystems

Conserving ecologically functional coral reef systems requires maintaining healthy fish populations and ensuring the ecosystems do not...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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