Half of the corals in the Indian Ocean were killed during the 1997-1998 El Niño event. This “unprecedented climate disturbance” could have been much more detrimental if strict fisheries restrictions hadn’t been put in place.
The results of a 17-year study by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) scientists revealed that it was the implementation of strict management that overcame the expected effects of climate change in the coral reef fisheries badly impacted by the El Niño event.
The scientists studied the environment and fisheries catches in southern Kenya before and after the ‘97-’98 event. They found an initial decline in catches, followed by an increase, which was closely associated with the strict fisheries restrictions put in place shortly after the event. By reducing fishing intensity and restricting destructive fishing gear, the fisheries were able to bounce back from the severe disturbance.
“The response suggests we can do something about countering lost fisheries production even in poor countries,” lead author Tim McClanahan of WCS said in a news release. “Common sense fisheries restrictions can increase the capacity to adapt to climate change and should be accelerated to mitigate losses arising from inaction.”
To learn more:
- Read the news release: Climate Change Impacts Countered By Stricter Fisheries Management.
- Access the study: Catch rates and income are associated with fisheries management restrictions and not an environmental disturbance, in a heavily exploited tropical fishery.
Copyright © 2014 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.