Community-based fisheries enforcement found to be very effective in coral reef fishery management

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Traditional community-run marine reserves and fisheries can play a big role in helping to restore and maintain fish numbers in stressed developing nations’ coral reef fisheries.   Using genetic ‘fin-printing’, an international team of scientists has gathered the first clear proof that small traditional fishing grounds that are effectively managed by local communities can help re-stock both themselves and surrounding marine areas. The finding has big implications for hundreds of millions of people around the world who depend on coral reefs for food and livelihood.   In an article in Current Biology the researchers report finding the offspring of protected coral trout breeding in community-managed areas in Papua New Guinea were plentiful both in the managed area and in surrounding fishery tenures.   “This is a really important finding, because it shows that small community-run fisheries can preserve their fish stocks – and can boost fish stocks in a surrounding radius of 30 kilometres or more,” says lead author Dr Glenn Almany of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University.   “It’s proof that traditional local fishery management pays off – and that is particularly critical in countries around the world where government fisheries schemes are lacking or poorly enforced. Some of this traditional marine management has operated for centuries.  We’re providing the hard scientific evidence that it works,” says Dr Richard Hamilton from The Nature Conservancy.   “We didn’t have to explain our results to the local fishers – they got it at once” says Dr Hamilton. “It gives them the confidence they need to get behind traditional fisheries management or government-introduced marine parks – because more fish will be caught locally.

Remote reefs prove more resilient that initially thought

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 A new study by a team of biologists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies has shown that isolated coral reefs can recover from catastrophic damage.  The study challenges conventional wisdom that suggested isolated reefs were more vulnerable to disturbance, because they were thought to depend on recolonisation from other reefs. Instead, the scientists found that the isolation of reefs allowed surviving corals to rapidly grow and propagate in the absence of human interference. read more

Air Pollution Correlated with Reduced Coral Growth

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According to a paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience by a team of climate scientists and coral ecologists from the UK, Australia and Panama, pollution from air particles resulting from burning coal or volcanic eruptions can shade corals from sunlight and cool the surrounding water resulting in reduced growth rates. Corals have been responding to changes in the concentration of particulate pollution in the atmosphere, Dr. Paul Halloran of the team explains: “Particulate pollution or ‘aerosols’ reflect incoming sunlight and make clouds brighter. This can reduce the light available for coral photosynthesis, as well as the temperature of surrounding waters. Together these factors are shown to slow down coral growth.” read more

Study shows that larger marine reserves are needed

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Leading international marine scientists have called for the protection of more, large marine wilderness areas in a bid to shield the world’s dwindling stocks of fish from destruction.   Working in the world’s largest unfished marine reserve, the remote Chagos Archipelago in the central Indian Ocean, scientists from Australia and the US have shown there is a dramatic difference in the numbers, size and variety of fish compared with smaller marine parks.   Their findings in two new reports provide the world’s first clear evidence that large-scale marine wilderness reserves are better for conserving fish than the far more common, small marine protected areas (MPAs) that many governments and fishing communities are presently implementing.   “The bottom line is that we found six times more fish in the Chagos ‘no take’ area than we did in even the best-managed Marine Reserves elsewhere in the Indian Ocean,” says lead author of the reports, Dr Nick Graham of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University.   The researchers acknowledge that marine reserves closer to centres of human population require different kinds of management and need to be smaller, to ensure that people can still draw their livelihoods and food from the sea – and these smaller marine reserves also provide important conservation gains.   Source article can be found here.     

Nevada bill would ban frag swaps (and dog shows)

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Nevada legislation that has been set for hearing in the Natural Resources Committee would make it a crime to sell, or give away, live animals at any “organized event” in the state. Assembly Bill 246 purports to ban the sale of animals at “swap meets” but that term is defined by the bill so broadly that it would literally include any “organized even at which two or more persons offer merchandise for sale or exchange.” Thus, any pet trade or hobby shows such as frag swaps, aquarium shows, dog shows, cat shows, reptile shows, and/or bird shows, at which any animals are sold would be prohibited.   This bill would establish a misdemeanor criminal offense for any person who sells “or attempts to sell, offers for adoption or transfers ownership of a live animal” at any organized event. Any vendor, attendee or other person is covered under the bill.    Text of the bill can be found here.