On the Global Reef Expedition, our team of scientists assessed the reef fish populations in both fished and remote locations to help identify if reef fish were being overexploited. This type of research is important for the health of the coral reef ecosystem, but also for the people who depend upon them.
An estimated six million fishers in 99 countries and territories target reef fish species for sustenance and subsistence. The world’s reefs produce 10-12% of the fish caught in tropical nations and 20-25% of the fish caught in the developing nations of the Pacific, Indian, Middle East, and the Caribbean. Across the tropical Pacific nations, it is estimated that 90% of the daily protein consumed by local communities comes directly from adjacent reefs. With so many people relying on reef fish for their daily lives, managing fish stocks is imperative.
Some studies suggest minimum reef fish biomass targets should fall between 1,195 and 1,900 kg per ha (or 11-19 kg per 100m2) to help maintain sustainable reef fish populations and help maintain critical ecosystem services, food security, and resilience of coral reefs. In most locations, we found the fish biomass fell at or below this.