Complexity of applying minimum legal sizes (MLS) of retention in an indigenous coral reef fishery

Busilacchi, S., Williams, A.J., Russ, G.R., and Begg, G.A. (2012) Complexity of applying minimum legal sizes (MLS) of retention in an indigenous coral reef fishery. Fisheries Management and Ecology.

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Retaining coral reef fish for subsistence during commercial fishing is a common practice for indigenous fishers in the Torres Strait, Australia, despite being inconsistent with legislation. Fisher access point surveys were completed between 2004 and 2006 on three islands in Torres Strait to characterise this subsistence practice and assess the level to which it undermines current minimum legal fish sizes. Approximately 15% of the annual total catch was retained for subsistence during commercial fishing. Notably, subsistence catch of the most commercially valuable species almost entirely comprised individuals smaller than the minimum legal sizes. The higher proportions of undersized individuals of valuable species retained during commercial fishing on some of the islands were most likely associated with an increase in professionalism of the fishers. These results demonstrate how the intended outcomes from a management strategy can be undermined when the specific operational conditions of the fishery are not considered. Successful implementation of management arrangements in indigenous communities ultimately depends on the sociocultural conditions of the communities and their understanding and adherence to the rules. A productive way forward for the management of this fishery is greater engagement of indigenous communities and managers in co-management arrangements.

Item ID: 20147
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1365-2400
Keywords: fisheries management, size limits, small-scale fisheries, Torres Strait
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2012 02:02
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0704 Fisheries Sciences > 070499 Fisheries Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8302 Fisheries - Wild Caught > 830204 Wild Caught Fin Fish (excl. Tuna) @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 50%
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