The effects of fishing on coral reef fish abundance and diversity

  • Published source details Watson M., Righton D., Austin T. & Ormond R. (1996) The effects of fishing on coral reef fish abundance and diversity. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 76, 229-233.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Cease or prohibit all types of fishing in a marine protected area

Action Link
Marine Fish Conservation
  1. Cease or prohibit all types of fishing in a marine protected area

    A site comparison study in 1992–1994 of two protected coral reef areas in the Indian Ocean, Kenya (Watson et al. 1996) found that prohibiting all fishing in a marine park for up to five years resulted in higher abundances of five of six fish family groups compared to a nearby marine reserve that permits traditional fishing types, but diversity was similar. The abundance of two of three non-commercially fished family groups were higher at the non-fished reef (butterflyfishes Chaetodontidae, non-fished: 52–58, fished: 23–40 fish/transect; damselfishes Pomacentridae, non-fished: 769, fished 412 fish/transect) and wrasses Labridae were similar (non-fished: 56, fished: 52 fish/transect). Abundances of commercially fished groups (emperors Lethrinidae, snappers Lutjanidae and groupers Serranidae) were greater at the no-fishing reef than the fished reef (data were not statistically tested). No differences in fish species number and diversity between non-fished and fished reefs were found (data reported as statistical results). In September-October 1992 and January-March 1994, visual underwater censuses (250 × 10 m transects) of six representative reef fish families were done at a series of sites (number was not reported) at both the Kisite Marine National Park (closed to all fishing types) and Mpunguti Marine National Reserve (traditional fishing such as hand lining and basket trapping only is permitted). Enforcement began in both areas in 1989.

    (Summarised by: Leo Clarke)

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