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Finfish disappearances around Bohol, Philippines inferred from traditional ecological knowledge


Little is known about local extinctions of finfish species in the most biodiverse marine ecosystem in the most marine biodiverse and anthropogenically threatened region on Earth. This paper examines coral reef associated finfish species that disappeared in the catches around the island of Bohol over the period 1950 to 2007, based on the only available data, namely traditional ecological knowledge. Generalized least squares (GLS) tests showed steep declines to zero among species formerly recorded in catches. Finfish species recommended as priority for further monitoring based on life history and disappearances in fish catch are giant grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus) and African pompano (Alectis ciliaris). Twenty out of the 21 species that disappeared from catches were moderate to very large-bodied, six were slow-growing fish and four were late-maturing fish. Species of large body size and subject to high fishing pressure may be particularly vulnerable. Traditional ecological knowledge when applied to population dynamics studies can add value to development of new monitoring methods. This knowledge can moreover inform the prioritization of species for fisheries assessment and conservation action.

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*Correspondence: Dr Margarita N. Lavides, Environmental Science Department, Ateneo De Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City, Philippines e-mail: or
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