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The history and characteristics of the Mobulid Ray Fishery in the Bohol Sea, Philippines

Acebes, J.M.V. and Tull, M. (2016) The history and characteristics of the Mobulid Ray Fishery in the Bohol Sea, Philippines. PLoS ONE, 11 (8). Article e0161444.

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The fishery for mobulid rays, also known as devil rays, has been practiced in the Bohol Sea for over a century yet very little is known about its history and characteristics. This study provides the first detailed description of the mobulid ray fishery in the Bohol Sea, Philippines. It describes the history and evolution of the fishery from the 19th century to 2013. It characterizes the fishery based on the species targeted, gears used, the organization, catch distribution, processing, monetary value, and the market of its by-products. This paper also analyses the changes that occurred through time, the management of the fishery and the drivers of the fishery. A multi-disciplinary approach was employed by combining ethno-historical research methods and catch landing monitoring in four primary sites within the Bohol Sea. This fishery began as an artisanal fishery using sail and row boats equipped with harpoons and gaff hooks practiced in at least four coastal villages in Bohol, Camiguin and Limasawa. The fishing fleet has decreased since the beginning of the 20th century however, with the motorization of the fishery and shift to the use of gillnets, the extent of the fishing grounds and market of the products have expanded. Four species of mobulid rays are caught in the Bohol Sea: Manta birostris, Mobula japanica, Mobula thurstoni and Mobula tarapacana. A fifth species, targeted by a fishing community off Dinagat as an off-shoot of the Bohol fishery is most likely the Manta alfredi. Currently, the fishery for mobulids is centered in Bohol Province where it has been practiced longest. The monetary value of mobulids in this region has increased and the dependence of fishing communities for their livelihood is significant. The unique characteristics of this fishery and the socio-cultural context within which it operates merits a thorough investigation in order to design the appropriate management strategy.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Management and Governance
Publisher: Public Library of Science
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