Oral Presentation Australian Society for Fish Biology Conference 2017

An assessment of fish assemblages in Moorea’s marine reserve network using stereo-video techniques  (#133)

Brooke Gibbons 1 , Jordan Goetze 2 , Jane Prince 1
  1. University of Western Australia, Perth, WA, Australia
  2. Curtin University, Perth

Marine ecosystems are facing threats ranging from ocean acidification to overfishing due to human impacts (Grorud-Colvert et al. 2014). Exploitation is causing changes to biodiversity, raising doubts over the long term sustainability of fisheries (Lauck et al. 1998, Roberts et al. 2005, Worm et al. 2006). As a result, no-take marine reserves are gaining popularity as a method to conserve biodiversity and preserve ecosystem function (Grorud Colvert et al. 2014). Marine reserves have been shown to increase fish density, size and species richness and reduce wariness within their boundaries (Januchowski-Hartley et al. 2013, Lindfield et al. 2014, Januchowski-Hartley et al. 2015). It is important to consider multiple indices when assessing the effectiveness of fisheries/conservation strategies as sensitivities of indicators to fishing pressure is not consistent across all indicators (Nash & Graham 2016). The marine reserve network surrounding Moorea, French Polynesia is currently under review, and past studies have not demonstrated any clear differences between reserve and fished areas. Fish behaviour in response to fishing pressure is an emerging field with very little data. We used diver operated stereo video systems to determine if wariness is lower and abundance and biomass is higher inside Moorea’s eight marine reserves compared to outside fished areas. Secondly, we aimed to determine the effects that habitat, tourism, fish feeding, poaching, and reserve size have on fish behaviour, and to what extent abundance, biomass and fish behaviour is affected by these impacts, either positively or negatively. The results and conclusions of this study are not yet finalized, however are near completion.

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