Coral reef fish communities in management systems with unregulated fishing and small fisheries closures compared with lightly fished reefs – Maldives vs. Kenya



  • 1.This study presents a comparison of the benthic cover and fish communities in three widely different management systems: (1) a heavily utilized subsistence fishery (yields >5 Mg km−2 yr−1); (2) moderately sized and well enforced fisheries closures (∼9% of the nearshore area) surrounded by heavy fishing; and (3) a more lightly used management system (yields <5 Mg km−2 yr−1).
  • 2.The objective was to compare management systems of small to moderate-sized closures surrounded by heavy use in Kenya with a large-scale light-use management system in the Maldives.
  • 3.Gross level attributes of the fish community suggest that the Maldives reefs had higher numbers of individuals (30%) and species (15%) than the Kenyan closures.
  • 4.Maldivian reefs had higher abundance of some carnivores such as emperors (Lethrinidae), jacks (Carangidae), triggerfish (Balistidae), and trumpetfishes (Aulostomidae). Half the biomass of fish in the Maldives was, however, composed of surgeonfish (Acanthuridae), which resulted in a higher abundance of herbivores/detritivores than found in Kenyan closures.
  • 5.Apex predator species were not a large portion of the biomass (<10%) in any system and, if remote reefs of the Pacific are examples of undisturbed ecosystems, then neither management system has fully protected apex species.

Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.