Project Title: Gear selectivity and sustainability of coral reef and pelagic fisheries in Tanimbar Kei, Indonesia
Mentor: Austin Humphries
Abstract: Small-scale coral reef and pelagic fisheries are an important resource for marine organisms and chief source of income for coastal communities in tropical countries. However, increasing fishing pressures are causing specific fish populations and overall yield to decline. Fishing restrictions can undermine local livelihoods and are, therefore, difficult to justify and enforce. Total prohibitions on fishing, while perhaps ideal from an ecosystem management perspective, may be socially unacceptable and thus receive little support or compliance. Gear-based management is a potential solution but there is little information on what species of fish are targeted by different gear types. By analyzing and visualizing data from coral reef fisheries in Indonesia using the statistical programming language ‘R’, the differential fishing gear effects on yield and fish community structure were assessed. While 54% of the species caught were pelagic fish rather than coral reef fish, the fishing practices for both types are currently not sustainable enough to prevent the decline of these fish species in the future. This information could be used in combination with scientific monitoring and traditional ecological knowledge to develop an adaptive management framework that uses local restrictions on the various gears to restore or balance the fishery and ecosystem.