New Assessment for Reef Fish Sustainability

Have you ever wondered how marine biologists assess the sustainability of fisheries?

Have you ever wondered how marine biologists assess the sustainability of fisheries? Classic models take only the reported catch data to assess the sustainability of a fishery. Recently, a team of researchers attempted to use a new measurement model to assess the health of grouper and snapper in the Florida Keys. Researchers from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and NOAA Fisheries tested the newly developed fishery risk assessment method to use fish size as the measurement method. In fact, according to Science Daily:

The new approach developed by UM Rosenstiel School Professor Jerald Ault and colleagues uses fish size-structured abundance data to evaluate fisheries sustainability status, instead of the traditional "catch-per-unit effort" method that requires long-term information collected by fishers to assess the health of a fishery.

The group of researchers from UM collected data on six species of fish in the fishery: black grouper, red grouper, coney, mutton snapper, yellowtail snapper, and hog snapper.

According to UM Rosenstiel School professor Jerald Ault:

The ecological and economic importance of tropical reef fish makes their sustainability a key conservation concern. The next challenge will be to evaluate the sustainability status of the over 50 principal exploited species in the Florida reef-fish community.

The value of the new method over the traditional method is that it can be used to immediately spot-check fish species vs. waiting for reporting of fishing quantity data which can be inaccurate and not timely.

It is amazing to me to see the innovation so quickly coming to fisheries worldwide to ensure their sustainability. The results from these types of new measurement systems allow for fisheries managers to improve the science they use for decision-making.

Reality Changing Observations:

Q1. What can you do to promote more sustainable fisheries?

Q2. How will the world change if our fisheries are depleted?

Q3. Can you explain to others why our fisheries are at risk of over fishing?