Investigators: Jan Robinson (SFA, Seychelles); Melita Samoilys (CORDIO East Africa, Kenya); Narriman Jiddawi (IMS, Tanzania) and Simon Agembe (KMFRI, Kenya)
MAP OF STUDY SITES
Click on the white-marked areas to see a close-up on the study sites.
Many key fishery species of coral reef fishes form large spawning aggregations at specific sites and times each year. Fishers’ knowledge of these aggregations can lead to heavy fishing which can result in reduced fisheries productivity, reduced resilience to climate change, and even local extirpation. The overall goal of this project is to develop and promote robust scientific approaches for the management of important fishery species that aggregate to spawn in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) to complement fisheries management and conservation goals. It will focus on the management of known spawning aggregation sites at five study locations in Seychelles, Kenya and Zanzibar, where some form of Marine Protected Area (MPA) exists or has been proposed.
Building on previous research in the WIO, the project will focus on three species of groupers (Epinephelus fuscoguttatus, E. lanceolatus and E. polyphekadion) and a rabbitfish (Siganus sutor). All these species contribute to important commercial or artisanal fisheries. The specific objectives of the project are to:
(1) Define the spatio-temporal dynamics of spawning behaviour of key fishery species that form spawning aggregations;
(2) Determine management requirements for spawning aggregations with a focus on optimal designs for no-take fishery reserves and assessing the role of MPAs;
(3) Raise awareness and develop policy advice relating to the management of reef fish spawning aggregations at national, regional and global levels.
The project will employ multidisciplinary approaches to address these objectives. Spatio-temporal dynamics of spawning behaviour of the target fish species will be determined through histological assessment of gonads from fishery catch samples; acoustic telemetry for tracking fish movement in relation to spawning sites; and underwater visual census for monitoring spawning behaviour. Management requirements and assessing the optimal design of no-take fishery reserves and the role of MPAs will involve interview based socio-economic surveys to obtain traditional fisher knowledge; and spatial modeling using GIS and 3D participatory approaches with fishers. Models will incorporate all the spatio-temporal and movement parameters derived through the project and will determine optimal designs for no-take fishery reserves as well as assess the effectiveness of MPAs in protecting spawning aggregations. Some of the methods are new to the WIO, therefore capacity will be built within leading research institutions as partners in the project. The collaborative approach will facilitate sharing of knowledge and technologies and reinforce the importance of adaptive management in the local context.
Outputs will include national policy advice regarding the protection of spawning aggregations for fisheries management, as well as location specific recommendations for the design of no-take fishery reserves within existing MPAs. Results will be disseminated via key regional and global policy platforms represented through project partners and collaborators, including NEPAD, the Nairobi Convention, the South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission and the Society for the Conservation of Reef Fish Aggregations.