Strict Fisheries Management Can Counteract Impacts of Climate Change

Written by on November 21, 2014 in Coral Reefs, Fish, Policy & Ocean Law

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.

`Coral reef near Havelock Island in the Indian Ocean. Photo credit: <a href="">Arun  Katiyar</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>.

Coral reef near Havelock Island in the Indian Ocean. Photo credit: Arun Katiyar via photopin cc.

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.”

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Copyright © 2014 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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