Low fuel cost and rising fish price threaten coral reef wilderness

Januchowski-Hartley, F.A. and Vigliola, L. and Maire, E. and Kulbicki, M. and Mouillot, D. (2020) Low fuel cost and rising fish price threaten coral reef wilderness. Conservation Letters, 13 (3). ISSN 1755-263X

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Wilderness areas offer unparalleled ecosystem conditions. However, growing human populations and consumption are among factors that drive encroachment on these areas. Here, we explore the threat of small‐scale fisheries to wilderness reefs by developing a framework and modeling fluctuations in fishery range with fuel costs and fish prices. We modeled biomass of four fishery groups across the New Caledonian archipelago, and used fish and fuel prices from 2005 to 2020 to estimate the extent of exploited reefs across three fishing scenarios. From 2012 to 2018, maximum profitable range increased from 15 to over 30 hr from the capital city, expanding to reefs previously uneconomic to fish, including a UNESCO heritage site. By 2020, over half of New Caledonian (∼17% global) wilderness reefs will become profitable to fish. Our results demonstrate that remoteness from humans should not be considered protection for wilderness coral reefs in the context of rising fish prices.

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Journal Article
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Conservation Letters
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21 Feb 2020 11:40
Last Modified:
03 May 2022 02:49