Low fuel cost and rising fish price threaten coral reef wilderness

Januchowski-hartley, Fraser A., Vigliola, Laurent, Maire, Eva, Kulbicki, Michel, and Mouillot, David (2020) Low fuel cost and rising fish price threaten coral reef wilderness. Conservation Letters, 13 (3). e12706.

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Wilderness areas offer unparalleled ecosystem conditions. However, growing human populations and consumption are among factors that drive encroachment on these areas. Here, we explore the threat of small-scale fisheries to wilderness reefs by developing a framework and modeling fluctuations in fishery range with fuel costs and fish prices. We modeled biomass of four fishery groups across the New Caledonian archipelago, and used fish and fuel prices from 2005 to 2020 to estimate the extent of exploited reefs across three fishing scenarios. From 2012 to 2018, maximum profitable range increased from 15 to over 30 hr from the capital city, expanding to reefs previously uneconomic to fish, including a UNESCO heritage site. By 2020, over half of New Caledonian (similar to 17% global) wilderness reefs will become profitable to fish. Our results demonstrate that remoteness from humans should not be considered protection for wilderness coral reefs in the context of rising fish prices.

Item ID: 62319
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1755-263X
Keywords: coral reef conservation, fisheries management, reef accessibility, small-scale fisheries, South Pacific
Copyright Information: Copyright: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Funders: Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD)
Projects and Grants: IRD Grant/AwardNumber: 234533
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2020 07:34
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310303 Ecological physiology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 100%
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