The Conservation Planning Group Applied conservation research

A Leon fisherman scans the reef for fish - Dyual Island, Papua New Guinea
NEW PAPER: Restricted grouper reproductive migrations support community-based management
The brown-marbled grouper is a favourite among divers and fishers alike.

The brown-marbled grouper is a favourite among divers and fishers alike. Photo credit: Mark Priest

Small, targeted community-managed reserves can balance conservation and fisheries benefits.Conservation commonly requires trade-offs between social and ecological goals. For tropical small-scale fisheries, social considerations often require community-based management – carried out at very small spatial scales. This is of particular concern for large coral reef fishes, such as many species of grouper, which migrate to aggregations to spawn. The limited current data suggest that the catchment areas (i.e. the total area from which all individuals are drawn) of such aggregations are too large to effectively manage these fishes with community-based no-take reserves.

Peter Waldie and colleagues from James Cook University, The Nature Conservancy, the French National Centre for Scientific Research, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, the University of Queensland and MarAlliance examined this further in a recent paper, published in the Royal Society Open Science journal. They used acoustic telemetry and tag-returns to examine reproductive migrations and catchment areas of the grouper Epinephelus fuscoguttatus, at a spawning aggregation in Papua New Guinea. Protection of the resultant catchment area of approximately 16 km2 using a community-based no-take reserve is certainly socially untenable here, and throughout much of the Pacific region. However, they found that spawning migrations were skewed towards shorter distances. Consequently, expanding the current 0.2 km2 reserve to 1-2 km2 would protect approximately 30-50% of the spawning population throughout the non-spawning season. Moreover the remaining 50-70% would spill-over into the openly fished area, ensuring that fishers directly benefit from any increase in biomass.

Contrasting with current knowledge, these results demonstrate that species with moderate reproductive migrations can be managed at scales congruous with spatially-restricted management tools, like community-based no-take reserves. Further, small targeted community-managed reserves can deliver a balance of conservation and fisheries benefits.

 

The entire article, all accompanying data, the code used for analysis, and the full peer-review history are available for free and open access at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.150694

Full reference: Waldie, P.A., Almany, G.R., Sinclair-Taylor, T.H., Hamilton, R.J., Potuku, T., Priest, M.A., Rhodes, K.L., Robinson, J., Cinner, J.E., & Berumen, M.L. (2016). Restricted grouper reproductive migrations support community-based management. Royal Society Open Science. 3: 150694.

The research team prepares to deploy the acoustic array. Photo credit: Tane Sinclair-Taylor

The research team prepares to deploy the acoustic array. Photo credit: Tane Sinclair-Taylor

A suspended acoustic receiver 'listens' for passing fish. Photo credit: Mark Priest

A suspended acoustic receiver ‘listens’ for passing fish. Photo credit: Mark Priest

Two Papau New Guinean children paddle an outrigger canoe. Photo credit: Tane Sinclair-Taylor

Photo credit: Tane Sinclair-Taylor

 

 

 

 

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About Us
We are a multidisciplinary group of researchers at James Cook University, interested in all aspects of conservation planning and led by Prof. Bob Pressey. We are based at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, the College of Marine & Environmental Sciences, the College of Business, Law & Governance, and the Cairns Institute. We collaborate widely with conservation biologists and practitioners worldwide. 

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