Assessing and Managing Data-Limited Ornamental Fisheries in Coral Reefs

Scientists offer framework to manage ornamental fish trade.

Written by
John Virata

Scientists have developed a framework that they hope could be implemented to manage ornamental fishery data and discuss this framework in their paper “Assessing and managing data-limited ornamental fisheries in coral reefs.” The paper’s lead author, Rod Fujita, director of research and development for the Environmental Defense Fund’s Oceans program says that the impact of the ornamental fishery on the world’s coral reefs is not well understood and is not managed by any international agency, unlike that of commercial fisheries.

 Fujita says that there is a need to assess the status of the world’s ornamental fish stocks and the coral reefs in which these animals live and in the paper, he and his co-authors provide a step-by-step approach for assessing and managing fisheries that are lacking in population and other data. The authors believe that the framework they describe in their paper could serve as a management guidance model to reduce the overfishing of fish harvested for the ornamental fish trade. They use their methods described in the paper with data collected from an Indonesian ornamental fishery, where a large portion of the world’s ornamental fish stocks are harvested for the trade.

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The paper recommends that a resource manager assess the status of a given coral reef ecosystem and determine if overall fishing mortality should be reduced. The assessment is then followed by a “productivity susceptibility analysis” that is used to estimate vulnerability of a species using basic information such as life history as well as the nature of the fishery.


Following this, export data or ratios of a given species’ fish density inside and outside of no-take marine protected areas are then combined with the vulnerability ranking to generate priority on what species should be regulated. Those species deemed less vulnerable could be managed to prevent over-exploitation.

An abstract of the paper, authored by Rod Fujita, Daniel J. Thornhill, Kendra Karr, Cara H. Cooper, and Laura E. Dee,  can be viewed online here.

Article Categories:
Fish · Lifestyle