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An approach for assessing essential fish habitat for coral reef species in Hawai'i
  • Published Date:
    2013
Filetype[PDF - 638.23 KB]


Details:
  • Personal Authors:
  • Corporate Authors:
    United States, National Marine Fisheries Service, ; Hawaii Pacific University ;
  • Funding:
    Funding: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA; contract number: NA10NMF4410061.;
  • Document Type:
  • Description:
    The Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 mandates that Fishery Management Councils describe and identify essential fish habitat (EFH), defined therein as "those waters and substrate necessary for fish for spawning, breeding and growth to maturity" for all species managed under a fisheries management plan (WPRFMC, 2009). One straightforward approach to determining essential fish habitat for a species of interest is to compare its relative abundance between available habitats. In fact, in its guidelines to fishery management councils for implementing EFH, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) acknowledges that having habitat-specific relative abundance or densities for a given species is a critical metric of habitat data quality (50 CFR Pt. 600.815). A species can be elevated from level-1 habitat data quality (knowing only which habitats a species occurs in based on its distribution in all or part of its range) to level-2 if it has habitat-related density or relative abundance data. This paper outlines how available fish survey data can be combined with remotely sensed benthic habitat data to provide a first-order approximation of habitat-specific relative abundance. In this context, the strengths and weaknesses of the available fish abundance and benthic habitat data for the Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) are discussed. Finally, using the pilot species 'manini' (Acanthurus triostegus sandvicensis), habitat-specific density was combined with bathymetric data using a geographic information system (GIS, in this case ARCGIS) to delineate EFH. The purpose of this exercise is to provide the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WPRFMC) with a cost-effective approach for designating EFH for coral reef species in Hawaii, and to demonstrate the kind of outputs such an approach can offer for fishery managers.

  • Supporting Files:
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