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Length-based assessment of sustainability benchmarks for coral reef fishes in Puerto Rico

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 November 2008

University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, Florida 33149, USA
University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, Florida 33149, USA
University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, Florida 33149, USA
NOAA National Ocean Service Biogeography Branch, 1305 East West Highway, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, USA
University of Puerto Rico, Department of Marine Sciences, Mayaguez, Puerto RicoUSA
*Correspondence: Dr Jerald Ault Tel: +1 305 421 4884 Fax: +1 305 421 4791 e-mail:


The sustainability of multispecies coral reef fisheries is a key conservation concern given their economic and ecological importance. Empirical estimation and numerical model analyses were conducted to evaluate exploitation status via resource reference points (or sustainability benchmarks) for coral reef fishes of the snapper-grouper complex in Puerto Rico. Mean size (L, in length) of animals in the exploited part of the population was estimated from fishery-dependent and fishery-independent size composition data and used as an indicator variable of exploitation rates. In application, fishing mortality rates estimated from L of various data sources were comparable. Of the 25 reef fish species assessed, 16 were below 30% spawning potential ratio (SPR), six were above 30% SPR, and three could not be reliably determined owing to low sample sizes. These findings indicate that a majority of snapper-grouper species in Puerto Rico are currently fished at unsustainable levels.

Copyright © Foundation for Environmental Conservation 2008

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