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Evaluating management strategies to optimise coral reef ecosystem services
  • Published Date:
  • Source:
    Journal of Applied Ecology, 55(4), 1823-1833.
Filetype[PDF-862.73 KB]

  • Description:
    1. Earlier declines in marine resources, combined with current fishing pressures and devastating coral mortality in 2015, have resulted in a degraded coral reef ecosystem state at Puako in West Hawai'i. Changes to resource management are needed to facilitate recovery of ecosystem functions and services. 2. We developed a customised ecosystem model to evaluate the performance of alternative management scenarios at Puako in the provisioning of ecosystem services to human users (marine tourists, recreational fishers) and enhancing the reef's ability to recover from pressures (resilience). 3. Outcomes of the continuation of current management plus five alternative management scenarios were compared under both high and low coral-bleaching related mortality over a 15-year time span. 4. Current management is not adequate to prevent further declines in marine resources. Fishing effort is already above the multispecies sustainable yield, and, at its current level, will likely lead to a shift to algal-dominated reefs and greater abundance of undesirable fish species. Scenarios banning all gears other than line fishing, or prohibiting take of herbivorous fishes, were most effective at enhancing reef structure and resilience, dive tourism, and the recreational fishery. Allowing only line fishing generated the most balanced trade-off between stakeholders, with positive gains in both ecosystem resilience and dive tourism, while only moderately decreasing fishery value within the area. 5. Synthesis and applications. Our customised ecosystem model projects the impacts of multiple, simultaneous pressures on a reef ecosystem. Trade-offs of alternative approaches identified by local managers were quantified based on indicators for different ecosystem services (e.g. ecosystem resilience, recreation, food). This approach informs managers of potential conflicts among stakeholders and provides guidance on approaches that better balance conservation objectives and stake-holders' interests. Our results indicate that a combination of reducing land-based pollution and allowing only line fishing generated the most balanced trade-off between stakeholders and will enhance reef recovery from the detrimental effects of coral bleaching events that are expected over the next 15 years.

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