Banning certain fishing gear can help save world’s coral reefs from climate change

June 18th, 2009 - 11:48 am ICT by ANI  

Washington, June 18 (ANI): A new study has suggested that banning or restricting the use of certain types of fishing gear could help the world’s coral reefs and their fish populations survive the onslaughts of climate change.

The study was carried out by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and other groups.

The international team of scientists has proposed that bans on fishing gear, like spear guns, fish traps, and beach seine nets, could aid in the recovery of reefs and fish populations hard hit by coral bleaching events.

Around the world corals have been dying at alarming rates, due to unusually warm water events resulting from global warming.

Research carried out in Kenya and Papua New Guinea has shown that certain types of gear are more damaging to corals, to coral-dependent fish and to the key species of fish that are needed to help reefs recover from bleaching or storm damage.

“This is creating a double jeopardy for both the corals and certain types of reef fish. They are already on the edge because of overfishing- and the additional impact caused by a bleaching can push them over,” Dr Cinner explained.

The result can be an accelerated decline of the reef, its fish populations - and their ability to sustain local people.

“From an ecological perspective, the best response to bleaching is to close reefs to fishing entirely. But that is not feasible everywhere and is a particularly hard sell among the impoverished fishers in developing countries,” said co-author Dr. Tim McClanahan of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“In areas where fishery closures are impractical, managers don’t have many options and haven’t been able to do much but watch the reef die and often not recover,” he added.

“Selective gear restrictions offer reef managers and fishers alike some middle ground, reducing pressure on the reef and its fish while it is in the recovery phase, while also providing fishers with some options for their livelihood,” Dr Cinner said.

This middle way is also more likely to be taken up by fishers.

“In other research, we’ve found that fishers themselves prefer gear restrictions to total closures, because most fishers use several types of gear so they can still earn a living when the use of one sort of gear is banned. They are more likely to comply,” said Dr Cinner. (ANI)

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