Fishes find sanctuary at popular surfing spot

04.08.2016 09:04
Kategorie: News

Larger MPA established based on the movement of fishermen's favoured fish species

Beneath the waves of Palikir Pass (or P-Pass) in Micronesia (incidentally one of the Pacific's best surfing areas), there is a new marine safe zone which aims to ensure the survival of fish species caught by the local fishing community.

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Scientists from Australia and Micronesia have managed to bring about a higher level of protection for the fishes by measuring how far they travel.

They interviewed the local fishermen on the Micronesian island of Pohnpei, asking them to identify the top ten species they wanted to protect. The fishes named included those used for food (like groupers, rabbitfish, parrotfish, surgeonfish, snapper and trevally) and those with cultural and conservation importance (like the humphead wrasse and bumphead parrotfish).

Based on the species named, the scientists found that existing marine protected areas (MPAs) were too small to properly protect some of these fishes. While some fish species live their lives within a radius of a few hundred metres, other species swim hundreds of kilometres every day. And once the fish moves out of the protected areas, they run the risk of getting caught.

To improve the situation, the scientists worked with and shared this insight with the local fishermen, eventually succeeding in the creation of larger MPAs.

The researchers emphasised that it was important to balance the interests of fishermen's interests with the need for environmental protection. When fishermen understand that they would ultimately benefit from the establishment of protection zones, they will willingly agree to larger MPAs. This would bode well for the survival of the target species.

The study has led to the establishment of Pohnpei's largest MPA called the Palikir Pass Marine Sanctuary.

The results of the study have been published in the recent issue of Journal of Applied Ecology.

More information:

Link to study: