Reef fisheries are required to take an ecosystem approach to their management, yet informing management with policies that avoid ecosystem impacts is challenging in highly complex systems, particularly if the target species serve an important ecosystem function. Caribbean coral reefs provide a classic example where herbivorous fish are an important fishery but depletion can elicit cascading impacts that lock reefs into degraded states. To date, scientists have recommended bans on parrotfish exploitation but this simply isn't politically or economically feasible in the majority of countries. A fisheries policy is needed that permits exploitation while limiting the impact on reef resilience. We modelled the impacts of a parrotfish fishery on the future state and resilience of Caribbean coral reefs, enabling us to quantify the trade-offs between harvest and ecosystem health. We find that implementation of a simple and enforceable size restriction of > 30 cm provides a win:win outcome in the short term, delivering both ecological and fisheries benefits leading to increased yield and greater coral recovery rate for a given harvest rate. However, maintaining resilient coral reefs even until 2030 requires the addition of harvest limitations (< 10% of virgin fishable biomass) to cope with a changing climate and induced coral disturbances, even in relatively healthy reefs today. Managing parrotfish fisheries is not a panacea for protecting coral reefs from climate change but it can play a role in sustaining the health of reefs and high quality habitat for reef fisheries.



Bozec, Y. M., University of Queensland, Australia, y.bozec@uq.edu.au

O'Farrell, S., University of California Davis, USA, shay.ofarrell.ac@gmail.com

Bruggemann, J. H., Université de la Réunion, France, henrich.bruggemann@univ-reunion.fr

Luckhurst, B. E., Italy, brian.luckhurst@gmail.com

Mumby, P. J., University of Queensland, Australia, p.j.mumby@uq.edu.au


Oral presentation

Session #:21
Date: 06/23/2016
Time: 14:15
Location: 310 THEATER

Presentation is given by student: No