Community structure and coral status across reef fishing intensity gradients in Palk Bay reef, southeast coast of India.
MetadataShow full item record
Coral reef fishes are exploited without the knowledge of their sustainability and their possible effect in altering the community structure of a coral reef ecosystem. Alteration of the community structure could cause a decline in the health of coral reefs and its services. We documented the coral community structure, status of live corals and reef fish assemblages in Palk Bay at the reef fishing hotspots and its nearby reef area with minimum fishing pressure and compared it with a control reef area where reef fishing was banned for more than two decades. The comparison was based on the percent cover of different forms of live corals, their diversity and the density and diversity of reef fishes. The reef fish stock in the reef fishing hotspots and its neighbouring reef was lower by 61 and 38 %, respectively compared to the control reef. The herbivore fish Scarus ghobban and Siganus javus were exploited at a rate of 250 and 105 kg month<sup>-1</sup> fishermen<sup>-1</sup>, respectively, relatively high comparing the small reef area. Live and dead corals colonized by turf algae were predominant in both the reef fishing hotspots and its nearby coral ecosystems. The percent cover of healthy live corals and live corals colonized by turf algae was <10 and >80 %, respectively, in the intensively fished coral ecosystems. The corals were less diverse and the massive Porites and Favia colonies were abundant in the intensive reef fishing sites. Results of this study suggest that the impact of reef fish exploitation was not solely restricted to the intensively fished reefs, but also to the nearby reefs which play a critical role in the resilience of degraded reef ecosystems.
- Scholarly literature