Findings from the Global Reef Expedition: Reef Fish Populations are being Overexploited Globally

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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.

Can you take too many fish from coral reefs?

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Subsistence fishing provides food for billions of people around the world. As human populations continue to rise, fishing technology becomes more efficient and advanced, and demand for fish increases, many of the nearshore fish become vulnerable to over-fishing. Coral reefs are home to many commercially important fish species such as grouper, snapper, and parrotfish, among many others. In some cases, fishers will preferentially target species of fish because they can sell them for higher profits or are the preferred fish to eat in the area. Management of the nearshore fish populations usually falls under the jurisdiction of the national government, however, in some cases, it is left to the smaller communities to manage their marine resources.

Thriving Alien and Declining Local Invertebrates

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The French Polynesian scientists participating on the Society Islands mission took the opportunity to quantify the abundance of a number of French Polynesia invertebrates… species that have, or may have, a commercial and food subsistence role in the near future. …

The Legacy Site – What Will the Future Tell?

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The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation works on a global scale to improve our understanding of coral reef health and the ecological integrity of coral reef ecosystems. Pollution, coastal development, overfishing, climate change, disease, and predation can negatively impact …