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Artisanal fish fences pose broad and unexpected threats to the tropical coastal seascape

Exton, Dan A., Ahmadia, Gabby N., Cullen-Unsworth, Leanne C. ORCID:, Jompa, Jamaluddin, May, Duncan, Rice, Joel, Simonin, Paul W., Unsworth, Richard K. F. and Smith, David J. 2019. Artisanal fish fences pose broad and unexpected threats to the tropical coastal seascape. Nature Communications 10 , 2100. 10.1038/s41467-019-10051-0

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Gear restrictions are an important management tool in small-scale tropical fisheries, improving sustainability and building resilience to climate change. Yet to identify the management challenges and complete footprint of individual gears, a broader systems approach is required that integrates ecological, economic and social sciences. Here we apply this approach to artisanal fish fences, intensively used across three oceans, to identify a previously underrecognized gear requiring urgent management attention. A longitudinal case study shows increased effort matched with large declines in catch success and corresponding reef fish abundance. We find fish fences to disrupt vital ecological connectivity, exploit > 500 species with high juvenile removal, and directly damage seagrass ecosystems with cascading impacts on connected coral reefs and mangroves. As semi-permanent structures in otherwise open-access fisheries, they create social conflict by assuming unofficial and unregulated property rights, while their unique high-investment-low-effort nature removes traditional economic and social barriers to overfishing.

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: Nature Research
ISSN: 2041-1723
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 January 2020
Date of Acceptance: 16 April 2019
Last Modified: 04 May 2023 02:56

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