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Differences in recreationally targeted fishes between protected and fished areas of a coral reef marine park

Posted on 02 August 2011

TitleDifferences in recreationally targeted fishes between protected and fished areas of a coral reef marine park
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsWestera, M, Lavery P, Hyndes G
JournalJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Pagination145 - 168
Date Published10/2003
Keywordsbiodiversity, conservation, fish, Ningaloo
AbstractMany comparisons have been made between sanctuary (no-fishing) and fished areas, where fishing pressure is exerted by artisanal or commercial fishers, but few have examined the effect of recreational fishing on fish assemblages in coral reef habitats. In this study, we compared assemblages of targeted fish from coral reef habitats in sanctuary (no-fishing) and recreationally fished zones of a marine protected area (MPA). Surface visual census (SVC) transects were conducted two times, at three regions, to compare the composition of predatory fish assemblages and the abundance, biomass, and size of the most commonly targeted fish. Baited remote underwater video (BRUV) was used to make relative counts of fish between zones. We also measured benthic cover and rugosity, which may influence fish assemblages. Analysis of similarity (ANOSIM) revealed significant differences in the composition of fish families/genera targeted by fishers (Lethrinidae, Lutjanidae, Haemulidae, Serranidae, and the genus Choerodon of the family Labridae) in terms of biomass (P<0.01) and abundance (P<0.05). The most consistent trends were recorded for biomass and this was supported by clustering of replicates in nonmetric multidimensional scaling (nMDS) ordinations. Similarity percentages (SIMPER) analysis indicated that the family Lethrinidae accounted for 73% (as abundance), and up to 69% (as biomass), of the dissimilarity between zones. Three-factor ANOVA highlighted significantly greater biomass, size, and abundance of legal-sized lethrinids (the most targeted family in the region) in sanctuary zones, but no differences in other families/genera. Results of BRUV supported SVC with greater relative counts of lethrinids (P<0.01) in sanctuaries, but no significant differences for other families. Cover of Acropora coral and hard substrate differed between zones at some regions but differences were inconsistent. There were no significant differences in algal cover or rugosity between zones. Given the inconsistency in benthic cover, the similarity of rugosity between zones, the consistently greater biomass of lethrinids in sanctuaries, and the abundance of large lethrinids in sanctuaries, the cessation of fishing in sanctuary zones appears responsible for observed differences in the populations of these fish. These results demonstrate that recreational fishing pressure may be sufficient to deplete fish populations below that of adjacent protected areas and that the effect of recreational fishing in coral reef habitats may be greater than previously thought.
Short TitleJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Refereed DesignationRefereed