Low fuel cost and rising fish price threaten coral reef wilderness

Type Article
Date 2020-05
Language English
Author(s) Januchowski‐hartley Fraser A.1, 2, 3, Vigliola Laurent2, Maire Eva4, 5, Kulbicki Michel6, Mouillot David4, 7
Affiliation(s) 1 : UMR 9190 MARBECIRD‐CNRS‐UM‐IFREMER, Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD) Montpellier Cedex 5 ,France
2 : UMR 9220 ENTROPIE Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), Centré IRD de Nouméa Nouméa, New Caledonia
3 : Department of Biosciences, College of Science Swansea University Abertawe ,UK
4 : UMR 9190 MARBECIRD‐CNRS‐UM‐IFREMER, Université de Montpellier Montpellier Cedex 5 ,France
5 : Lancaster Environment Centre Lancaster University Lancaster, UK
6 : UMR 9920 ENTROPIE, Laboratoire Excellence LABEX Corail Institut de recherche pour le développement Perpignan ,France
7 : Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies James Cook University Townsville Queensland, Australia
Source Conservation Letters (1755-263X) (Wiley), 2020-05 , Vol. 13 , N. 3 , P. e12706 (9p.)
DOI 10.1111/conl.12706
WOS© Times Cited 10
Keyword(s) coral reef conservation, fisheries management, reef accessibility, small-scale fisheries, South Pacific

Wilderness areas offer unparalleled ecosystem conditions. However, growing human populations and consumption are among factors that drive encroachment on these areas. Here, we explore the threat of small‐scale fisheries to wilderness reefs by developing a framework and modeling fluctuations in fishery range with fuel costs and fish prices. We modeled biomass of four fishery groups across the New Caledonian archipelago, and used fish and fuel prices from 2005 to 2020 to estimate the extent of exploited reefs across three fishing scenarios.  From 2012 to 2018, maximum profitable range increased from 15 to over 30 hr from the capital city, expanding to reefs previously uneconomic to fish, including a UNESCO heritage site. By 2020, over half of New Caledonian (∼17% global) wilderness reefs will become profitable to fish. Our results demonstrate that remoteness from humans should not be considered protection for wilderness coral reefs in the context of rising fish prices.

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Table S1. Boosted regression tree model statistics 1 13 KB Open access
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