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Seychelles' marine protected areas: Comparative structure and status of reef fish communities

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Simon Jennings, Professor Nick Polunin


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Effective management of Seychelles' reef resources is essential because the conflicting demands of fishing, tourism and conservation must be reconciled if sustainable development and the protection of natural resources is to be assured. Marine protected areas play a key role in the existing management strategy and yet there is little quantitative understanding of the benefits they may provide. We compare the biomass and species richness of fish assemblages on coral and granitic reef habitats in four areas which receive different levels of protection from fishing and other human activities. Species richness of the total fish community, biomass of the total fish community and species richness and biomass of many families were higher on both coralline and granitic reefs in two marine protected areas where protective regulations were effectively enforced. However, the biomass of the three principal families of fishes targeted by the fishery was significantly lower in one of these areas. This was attributed to illegal fishing and the fishing concessions offered to local people. We conclude that poaching and minor fishing concessions did not affect the aspects of the fish community which are important to most tourist visitors (biomass and overall species richness), but that they have a statistically significant effect on the structure of the fish community. Furthermore, whilst a small well-patrolled area will provide an effective refuge from fishing, it will often be stocked by larval fishes which are the progeny of adults living many kilometres away. As such, the protected area cannot operate in isolation to maintain biomass and diversity. A valid long-term aim of reserve management may be to assure the protection of a greater proportion of Seychelles' fishes throughout their life history. This may be achieved if current plans for the management of marine protected areas can be instituted. Copyright © 1996 Elsevier Science Limited. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jennings S, Marshall SS, Polunin NVC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Biological Conservation

Year: 1996

Volume: 75

Issue: 3

Pages: 201-209

Print publication date: 30/11/1999

ISSN (print): 0006-3207

ISSN (electronic): 1873-2917

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/0006-3207(95)00081-X


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