The last marine wilderness: spearfishing for trophy fishes in the Coral Sea

Young, Matthew A.L., Foale, Simon, and Bellwood, David (2016) The last marine wilderness: spearfishing for trophy fishes in the Coral Sea. Environmental Conservation, 43 (1). pp. 90-95.

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Abstract

Isolation can provide marine ecosystems with a refuge from human impacts. However, information on the biodiversity, ecology and fisheries of remote regions is often sparse. The proposed Coral Sea Marine Reserve could create one of the world's largest and most remote marine parks, yet little information is available to inform discussions. Fish captures from the Coral Sea and adjacent Great Barrier Reef (GBR) were assessed from reports contained in a chronology of spearfishing publications from 1953 to 2009, and reveal for the first time the history of recreational spearfishing in the Coral Sea. Although the area is perceived as relatively untouched, the data indicate that spearfishers have frequented Coral Sea reefs for at least 43 years and reported captures have increased exponentially. Post-1993 trophy captures in the Coral Sea (mean 23 kg) were larger than the adjacent GBR (9 kg). Reef species characterize the GBR catch, while large pelagic species characterize the Coral Sea catch. Provided that functionally important fishes are not targeted, the relatively small scale of recreational spearfishing and the focus on pelagic species suggests that spearfishing currently exerts limited pressure on the ecology of Coral Sea reefs.

Item ID: 46888
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: coral reef fishing, Coral Sea, Great Barrier Reef, historical ecology, marine reserves, pelagic fisheries, recreational fishing, spearfishing
ISSN: 1469-4387
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2017 05:35
FoR Codes: 07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0704 Fisheries Sciences > 070403 Fisheries Management @ 80%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 20%
SEO Codes: 83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8302 Fisheries - Wild Caught > 830201 Fisheries Recreational @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 50%
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