Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association

Reef Fish Spawning Aggregations in the Western Indian Ocean: Research for Management. WIOMSA Book Series No 13

Reef Fish Spawning Aggregations in the Western Indian Ocean: Research for Management. WIOMSA Book Series No 13

It is the first documentation of commercially important reef fishes that aggregate to spawn in the western Indian Ocean. It is the first to develop a framework for processing information in data- and management-poor situations where fisheries important to local communities must, somehow, nonetheless be managed. It is the first to explore in detail the outcomes of different management scenarios across very different species fished in very different ways within the same region. In taking this approach, the book also tackles head-on some of the critical questions that we must ask as we come to learn more about spawning aggregations and their fisheries. Questions about the ethics of using traditional knowledge for management; questions about the influence of conservation agendas, linked to scarce funding, that may not serve the best interests of communities or species. Through the thirteen chapters we explore some very different aggregating species with very different responses to fishing. From rabbitfishes to massive groupers, from species resilient to those highly vulnerable to fishing, we are led to consider how important it is to consider the selectivity of fishing gear, the importance of when most fishing occurs relative to the aggregation season, and how catchability can change everything. Field and novel modelling approaches were used to develop a predictive vulnerability framework for the data-poor contexts typical of the region. The contrast of spatial protection, often the conservation measure of choice, with more conventional management was particularly interesting in highlighting the need to examine each fishery separately; protecting the aggregation itself is not necessarily the best way to protect the fishery. The devil is in the detail

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