Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association

Incorporating reef fish spawning aggregations into optimal designs for no-take fishery reserves: Strengthening fisheries management and coral reef resilience in the Western Indian Ocean

Lead Institution: Coastal Oceans Research & Development in the Indian Ocean (CORDIO)
Project Country:
Investigators: Jan Robinson
Project Summary:

Many key fishery species of coral reef fishes form large spawning aggregations at specific sites and times each year. The overall goal of this project was to develop and promote robust scientific approaches for the management of important fishery species that aggregate to spawn in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) to complement fisheries management and conservation goals. It focused on the management of known spawning aggregation sites at five study locations in Seychelles, Kenya and Zanzibar, where some form of Marine Protected Area (MPA) exists or has been proposed.

What were the problems the project intended to address?:

Many key fishery species of coral reef fishes form large spawning aggregations at specific sites and times each year. Fishers’ knowledge of these aggregations can lead to heavy fishing which can result in reduced fisheries productivity, reduced resilience to climate change, and even local extirpation. The overall goal of this project was to develop and promote robust scientific approaches for the management of important fishery species that aggregate to spawn in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) to complement fisheries management and conservation goals. The project planned to focus on three species of groupers (Epinephelus fuscoguttatus, E. lanceolatus and E. polyphekadion) and a rabbitfish (Siganus sutor). All these species contribute to important commercial or artisanal fisheries.

Project Objectives:

The specific objectives of the project, to:
(1) Define the spatio-temporal dynamics of spawning behaviour of key fishery species that form spawning aggregations;
(2) Determine management requirements for spawning aggregations with a focus on optimal designs for no-take fishery reserves and assessing the role of MPAs;
(3) Raise awareness and develop policy advice relating to the management of reef fish spawning aggregations at national, regional and global levels.

Study Sites:
Publications:

1. Robinson, J., Samoilys, M., Grandcourt, E., Julie, D., Cedras, M. & Gerry, C. (2011) The importance of targeted spawning aggregation fishing to the management of Seychelles’ trap fishery. Fisheries Research 112: 96-103
2. – Arnaud Grüss, David M. Kaplan and Jan Robinson. “Evaluation of the effectiveness of marine protected areas for transient spawning aggregations in data-limited situations”
Note: Manuscript in final editing before submission to Marine Ecology Progress Series.