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.