Breaking bread with rivals leads to more fish on coral reefs

phys.org | 4/18/2019 | Staff
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Cooperation is key to most successful endeavours. And, scientists find, when fishermen and women cooperate with other fishers, this can boost fish stocks on coral reefs.

Dr. Michele Barnes, a senior research fellow from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) at James Cook University (JCU), is the lead author of a study published today that looks at the relationships between competing fishers, the fish species they hunt, and their local reefs.

Relationships - People - Consequences - Availability - Resources

"Relationships between people have important consequences for the long-term availability of the natural resources we depend on," Dr. Barnes says.

"Our results suggest that when fishers—specifically those in competition with one another—communicate and cooperate over local environmental problems, they can improve the quality and quantity of fish on coral reefs."

Co-author - Prof - Nick - Graham - Lancaster

Co-author Prof Nick Graham, from Lancaster University (previously at JCU), adds: "Coral reefs across the world are severely degraded by climate change, the pervasive impacts of poor water quality, and heavy fishing pressure. Our findings provide important insights on how fish communities can be improved, even on the reefs where they are sought."

Dr. Barnes and her team interviewed 648 fishers and gathered underwater visual data of reef conditions across five coral reef fishing communities in Kenya.

Places - Fishers - Competitors - Fishing - Gear

They found that in the places where fishers communicated with their competitors about the fishing gear they use, hunting locations, and fishing rules, there were more fish in the sea—and of higher quality.

Co-author Dr. Jack Kittinger, Senior Director at Conservation International's Center for Oceans, says this...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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