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Study says 'middle class' coral reef fish feel the economic squeeze
Date:2/10/2009

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Economic growth during the early stages can also erode cultural restrictions on overfishing, according to the authors. The net result: fewer fish. Among the countries studied, Kenya in particular, has experienced a sharp decline in cultural restraints and a subsequent increase in unrestrained and destructive fishing techniques.

The most affluent communities, by contrast, become less dependent on marine resources and more diversified economically, with more salaried positions and economic opportunities. Wealthier communities also possess higher levels of technologylarger boats that enable fishermen to fish on the open seaand an increased awareness on the importance of coral reefs on ecological health.

The U-shaped curve in fish biomass with respect to socioeconomic levels approximates what is known as an environmental "Kuznet curve," which is adapted from a graphical model that measures economic inequalities in developing countries driven by the extent of a countries economic influence.

Predictably, the research also found that fish levels were always negatively but not strongly affected by high human population density. And protected marine sites with no fishing had fish levels three times higher than sites where fishing was permitted.

"Coral reef fishery management will depend not just on fishing laws but also on improving human welfare and institutional capacity through appropriate socioeconomic development" added McClanahan. "Governments, donors, and other agencies help communities avoid 'poverty traps' through investments in programs and alternatives to reef-based livelihoods, where obvious examples include infrastructure developments such as schools and hospitals."


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Contact: John Delaney
jdelaney@wcs.org
718-220-3275
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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