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An evaluation of the evidence for linkages between mangroves and fisheries

Manson, F., Loneragan, N., Skilleter, G. and Phinn, S. (2005) An evaluation of the evidence for linkages between mangroves and fisheries. Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review, 43 . pp. 483-513.

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There is a widely-held paradigm that mangroves are critical for sustaining production in coastal fisheries through their role as important nursery areas for fisheries species. This paradigm frequently forms the basis for important management decisions on habitat conservation and restoration of mangroves and other coastal wetlands. This paper reviews the current status of the paradigm and synthesises the information on the processes underlying these potential links. In the past, the paradigm has been supported by studies identifying correlations between the areal and linear extent of mangroves and fisheries catch. This paper goes beyond the correlative approach to develop a new framework on which future evaluations can be based. First, the review identifies what type of marine animals are using mangroves and at what life stages. These species can be categorised as estuarine residents, marine-estuarine species and marine stragglers. The marine estuarine category includes many commercial species that use mangrove habitats as nurseries. The second stage is to determine why these species are using mangroves as nurseries. The three main proposals are that mangroves provide a refuge from predators, high levels of nutrients and shelter from physical disturbances. The recognition of the important attributes of mangrove nurseries then allows an evaluation of how changes in mangroves will affect the associated fauna. Surprisingly few studies have addressed this question. Consequently, it is difficult to predict how changes in any of these mangrove attributes would affect the faunal communities within them, and, ultimately, influence the fisheries associated with them. From the information available, it seems likely that reductions in mangrove habitat complexity would reduce the biodiversity and abundance of the associated fauna, and these changes have the potential to cause cascading effects at higher trophic levels with possible consequences for fisheries. Finally, there is a discussion of the data that are currently available on mangrove distribution and fisheries catch, the limitations of these data and how best to use the data to understand mangrove-fisheries links and, ultimately, to optimise habitat and fisheries management. Examples are drawn from two relatively data-rich regions, Moreton Bay (Australia) and Western Peninsular Malaysia, to illustrate the data needs and research requirements for investigating the mangrove-fisheries paradigm. Having reliable and accurate data at appropriate spatial and temporal scales is crucial for mangrove-fisheries investigations. Recommendations are made for improvements to data collection methods that would meet these important criteria. This review provides a framework on which to base future investigations of mangrove-fisheries links, based on an understanding of the underlying processes and the need for rigorous data collection. Without this information, the understanding of the relationship between mangroves and fisheries will remain limited. Future investigations of mangrove-fisheries links must take this into account in order to have a good ecological basis and to provide better information and understanding to both fisheries and conservation managers.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: CRC Press
Copyright: © R. N. Gibson, R. J. A. Atkinson, and J. D. M. Gordon, Editors Taylor & Francis
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