Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Limiting Catch of One Type of Fish Could Help Save Coral Reefs, Research Finds

Caribbean reefs were perfect for studying how limiting the catch of seaweed-eating fish could help coral reefs recover. (Photograph Credit: Alamy) Click to Enlarge.
Limiting the take of just one type of fish could protect coral reefs around the world from the most serious immediate impacts of climate change, researchers have found.

Studying Caribbean coral reefs, Peter Mumby and colleagues from the University of Queensland found that enforcing a rule limiting the fishing of a single type of herbivorous fish – parrotfish – would allow coral reefs there to continue to grow, despite bleaching and other impacts associated with climate change.

Coral reefs damaged by bleaching or storms can recover when new baby corals settle and grow on the dead old corals.  But the new recruits must compete with seaweed.  If the seaweed outcompetes the coral, the reef can be lost forever, transforming into a seaweed-dominated ecosystem, where most of the biodiversity is lost.

But herbivorous fish can eat the seaweed, giving the baby corals a fighting chance.

Banning the taking of parrotfish under 30cm, and limiting total catch to 10% of the mass of the total population, would allow the reefs to cope with climate change until at least 2030, the researchers found.

Read more at Limiting Catch of One Type of Fish Could Help Save Coral Reefs, Research Finds

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