A social-ecological approach to assessing and managing poaching by recreational fishers

Bergseth, Brock J., Williamson, David H., Russ, Garry R., Sutton, Stephen G., and Cinner, Joshua E. (2017) A social-ecological approach to assessing and managing poaching by recreational fishers. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 15 (2). pp. 67-73.

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Abstract

Effective conservation depends upon people's compliance with regulations, yet non-compliance (eg poaching) is often the rule rather than the exception. Poaching is often clandestine and socially undesirable, requiring specialized, multidisciplinary approaches for assessment and management. We estimated poaching by recreational fishers in no-fishing reserves of Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) by conducting social surveys and quantifying derelict (lost or discarded) fishing gear. Our study revealed that (1)between 3-18% of fishers admitted to poaching within the past year, (2) poaching activities were often concentrated at certain times (holidays) and in specific places (poaching hotspots), and (3) fishers' primary motivations to poach were the perception of higher catches in reserves and a low probability of detection. Our results suggest that extolling certain ecological benefits of marine reserves where enforcement capacity is low could lead to the perverse outcome of encouraging non-compliance. Our combined social-ecological approach revealed that even in an iconic marine park such as the GBRMP, poaching levels are higher than previously assumed, which has implications for effective management.

Item ID: 50327
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1540-9309
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A version of this publication was included as Chapters 2 & 3 of the following PhD thesis: Bergseth, Brock J. (2018) Poaching in marine protected areas: drivers of and responses to illegal fishing. PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Funders: National Environmental Research Program (NERP), ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2017 07:54
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 100%
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