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One fish, two fish … reef fish
Date:3/21/2011

MIAMI March 21, 2011 -- Marine biologists have solved a conundrum that has stumped them for years how to count reef fish. It may sound simple, but the task is actually complex and critical in helping to evaluate the state of our oceans, coral reefs and the marine life that populate them.

In an article published in the journal Fisheries Research scientists from the University of Miami (UM) and NOAA Fisheries Service have collaborated to create a framework that extends and increases the effectiveness of reef monitoring techniques. The new methodology uses a probabilistic survey approach to more precisely count the numbers of fish in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The framework can be used to determine management strategies best suited to ensure the long-term sustainability of reef resources whether in the Florida Keys, Hawaii or in the Indo-Pacific's Coral Triangle.

"The results of this study can be used to support stock assessments of principal exploited species, evaluate the performance of 'no-take' marine reserves, and assess community health for many non-target reef fish species," said Steven Thur, acting manager of NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program. "This is a great example of science directly feeding into management decisions, finding research efficiencies, and of successful collaboration across federal, state, and academic lines so we invest our funds in areas of greatest importance."

The research team includes Steve Smith, Jerry Ault and Jiangang Luo from UM's Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, and Jim Bohnsack, Doug Harper and Dave McClellan from NOAA's Southeast Fisheries Science Center. They began their work in the Florida Keys more than three decades ago.

"This program started when it became obvious that we could not evaluate coral reef fish populations by simply counting how many fish were being landed at the dock," said Bohnsack. "We knew that we could see and measure m
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Contact: Barbra Gonzalez
barbgo@rsmas.miami.edu
305-421-4704
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Source:Eurekalert  

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