1. Unsustainable fishing is a major driver of change in marine ecosystems, and the ways in which fishing gears target different species of fish with varying ecological functions are unclear.
2. Over a 7-year period, marine scientists examined whether artisanal fishing gear (spear guns, gillnets, beach seines, basket traps, etc.) selectively target fishes with unique combinations of traits (diet, body size, depth, schooling behaviour) in a coral reef ecosystem.
3. There were 163 unique combinations of traits analysed in the study, but half of the catches by each fishing gear type were linked to two to six trait combinations; banning specific gears will benefit species with certain trait combinations, but fishing effort reductions are still needed to alleviate pressure on fish populations.
Study and Journal: "Functional traits illuminate the selective impacts of different fishing gears on coral reefs" from Journal of Applied Ecology
WCS Co-Author(s): Tim McClanahan , Country Director, Kenya Marine