Shark overfishing hurts coral reefs
Overfishing for sharks is having detrimental effects on coral reefs, finds a new study published in the journal PLOS One.
The research is based on long-term monitoring reefs off northwestern Australia. The authors, led by Jonathan Ruppert, formerly of the University of Toronto and now with York University, compared community structure between several atoll-like reefs. Some of the reefs were protected, while some were open to exploitation by Indonesian fishermen using traditional fishing techniques. Indonesian fishermen tend to target high value species like sharks.
The researchers found the overfishing of sharks can result in profound ecological changes.
“The reefs provided us with a unique opportunity to isolate the impact of over-fishing of sharks on reef resilience, and assess that impact in the broader context of climate change pressures threatening coral reefs,” said Ruppert. “Shark fishing appears to have quite dramatic effects on coral reef ecosystems.”
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