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Artisanal fish fences pose broad and unexpected threats to the tropical coastal seascape

Exton, Dan A and Ahmadia, Gabby N and Cullen-Unsworth, Leanne C and Jompa, Jamaluddin and May, Duncan and Rice, Joel and Simonin, Paul W and Unsworth, Richard KF and Smith, David J (2019) 'Artisanal fish fences pose broad and unexpected threats to the tropical coastal seascape.' Nature Communications, 10 (1). ISSN 2041-1723

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Abstract

Gear restrictions are an important management tool in small-scale tropical fisheries, improving sustainability and building resilience to climate change. Yet to identify the management challenges and complete footprint of individual gears, a broader systems approach is required that integrates ecological, economic and social sciences. Here we apply this approach to artisanal fish fences, intensively used across three oceans, to identify a previously underrecognized gear requiring urgent management attention. A longitudinal case study shows increased effort matched with large declines in catch success and corresponding reef fish abundance. We find fish fences to disrupt vital ecological connectivity, exploit > 500 species with high juvenile removal, and directly damage seagrass ecosystems with cascading impacts on connected coral reefs and mangroves. As semi-permanent structures in otherwise open-access fisheries, they create social conflict by assuming unofficial and unregulated property rights, while their unique high-investment-low-effort nature removes traditional economic and social barriers to overfishing.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GC Oceanography
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Biological Sciences, School of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 22 May 2019 13:48
Last Modified: 22 May 2019 14:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/24647

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