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New study shows past over exploitation of reef fishes in Palau

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KOROR (Press Release) — In order to ensure sustainable fisheries, and healthy coral reefs for future generations, sustainable management practices based on accurate assessments of fish stocks are required.

Palau International Coral Reef Center researchers, from left, Victor Nestor, Christina Muller-Karanassos, Dawnette Olsudong and Lincy Lee Marino.
PICRC photo


In 2017, Palau International Coral Reef Center launched the first nation-wide study to investigate the status of commercially important reef fish stocks across Palau. PICRC researchers Christina Muller-Karanassos, Marine Gouezo, Victor Nestor, Lincy Lee Marino, Dawnette Olsudong, and Geory Mereb recently published a report detailing the results of their studies that was conducted at six different reef habitats in 94 sites around Palau.
The results from this study suggests that 83% of the sites that were surveyed were overexploited. Likewise, the spawning potential ratio — a measure of the impact of fishing on the potential productivity of a stock — was found to be < 20% for four species (keremlal, mesekelat mellemau, reked, and bekerkard el tiau), suggesting that the stocks for these species have been heavily exploited.
In three species of fish (chesengel, cherangel, and ngiaoch) spawning potential ratio was greater than 20%, suggesting they have not been over exploited. Results also showed that fish biomass varies considerably across the sites studied, with habitat type and region affecting it the most. Overall, sites in the Northern Reefs have the highest biomass followed by sites in the outer reefs to the west of Koror.
“The results from this study clearly shows the results of past overfishing,” stated PICR chief executive officer Dr. Yimnang Golbuu. “But the good news is that studies in Northern Reefs, before and after they implemented management measures, suggest that fish populations are no longer declining. The passage of the new law to ban export of all reef fishes will contribute significantly to these local efforts to recover our fish populations and ensure sustainability for future generations.”
An e-copy of this report is available at PICRC’s website at http://picrc.org/picrcpage/technicalreports
To request a printed copy of the report, or for more information about this survey, please contact the director of the research department, Geraldine Rengiil, at 680-488-6950 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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