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Global significance of seagrass fishery activity

Nordlund, Lina M., Unsworth, Richard K. F., Gullström, Martin and Cullen-Unsworth, Leanne C. ORCID: 2018. Global significance of seagrass fishery activity. Fish and Fisheries 19 (3) , pp. 399-412. 10.1111/faf.12259

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Seagrass meadows support fisheries through provision of nursery areas and trophic subsidies to adjacent habitats. As shallow coastal habitats, they also provide key fishing grounds; however, the nature and extent of such exploitation are poorly understood. These productive meadows are being degraded globally at rapid rates. For degradation to cease, there needs to be better appreciation for the value of these habitats in supporting global fisheries. Here, we provide the first global scale study demonstrating the extent, importance and nature of fisheries exploitation of seagrass meadows. Due to a paucity of available data, the study used a global expert survey to demonstrate the widespread significance of seagrass-based fishing activity. Our study finds that seagrass-based fisheries are globally important and present virtually wherever seagrass exists, supporting subsistence, commercial and recreational activity. A wide range of fishing methods and gear is used reflecting the spatial distribution patterns of seagrass meadows, and their depth ranges from intertidal (accessible by foot) to relatively deep water (where commercial trawls can operate). Seagrass meadows are multispecies fishing grounds targeted by fishers for any fish or invertebrate species that can be eaten, sold or used as bait. In the coastal communities of developing countries, the importance of the nearshore seagrass fishery for livelihoods and well-being is irrefutable. In developed countries, the seagrass fishery is often recreational and/or more target species specific. Regardless of location, this study is the first to highlight collectively the indiscriminate nature and global scale of seagrass fisheries and the diversity of exploitative methods employed to extract seagrass-associated resources. Evidence presented emphasizes the need for targeted management to support continued viability of seagrass meadows as a global ecosystem service provider.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Sustainable Places Research Institute (PLACES)
Additional Information: This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 1467-2960
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 November 2017
Date of Acceptance: 16 October 2017
Last Modified: 05 May 2023 01:04

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