Volume 59

Towards an ecosystem-based approach to assess non-target tropical reef fishes

Molina-Ureña, H. Ault, J.S.
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Date: November, 2006

Pages: 203-208

Event: Proceedings of the Fifty Nine Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: Belize City

Country: Belize


An ecosystem-based approach integrating ontogenetic habitat uses and population dynamics was developed to assess population risks from exploitation and environmental changes on non-target reef fishes. The method employed a combination of fisheries and ecological theory, and a suite of simulation techniques to study South Florida parrotfishes. Recommended steps in this systems approach are: (1) analysis of information gaps for the stocks (or taxon) under consideration, including systematics, biogeography, population dynamics, reproductive ecology, trophodynamics, habitat use, and fisheries catch and fleet dynamics; (2) determination of primary objectives from prioritization of information gap analyses of Step 1; (3) determination of essential fish habitats from integration of stratified sampling design for fisheries-independent surveys and habitat selection theory-based analyses. These length-based analyses include ontogenetic shifts, migrations, and connections between reefs and adjacent habitats subject to fisheries, gear selectivity and catchability; (4) refined estimation of population dynamics and fisheries-specific parameters encompassing life history demographics from empirical data or comparisons to theoretical expectations adapted to local conditions; (5) simulation modeling of a realistic range of fishing scenarios and demographic characteristics using REEFS (Reef fish Equilibrium Exploitation Fisheries Simulator) and size-based mortality estimation (LBAR) to evaluate the efficacy of potential traditional fisheries (e.g., size/bag limits) and spatial (e.g., marine protected areas) management strategies. An example application to the Florida Keys coral reef ecosystem is presented

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