A 10-year comparison of the Pohnpei, Micronesia, commercial inshore fishery reveals an increasingly unsustainable fishery

In Pohnpei, Micronesia, a 10-year (2006–2015) follow-up market survey was conducted to provide the basis for a comparative assessment of the status of the commercial inshore fishery, to inform management and to identify the most relevant management options. Within this timeframe, marketed coral reef fish volumes declined by 50 mt (ca. 20%), the use of unsustainable fishing methods (nighttime spearfishing and small-mesh gillnets) in- creased from 75.5% to 81.9%, and catch-per-unit-effort decreased from 3.4 ± 0.1 to 3.2 ± 0.4 kg h−1 fisher1. Simultaneously, the economic return as price per unit effort was nearly halved for all gear types. Trip volumes increased, however, this was paralleled by a rise in the average number of fishers per trip, particularly for nighttime spearfishing. Effort shifted from inner to outer reef areas and further away from high fisher density communities. At the family level, increases in the percentage of lower tropic level catch were observed, with herbivores and planktivores increasing in frequency in catch more than other trophic level fishes. The only weight increase among top carnivores was for epinephelids, however this was accompanied by a greater con- tribution by juveniles for the most commonly targeted grouper, Camouflage grouper, Epinephelus polyphekadion. Among fish families, eight epinephelids were absent in catch in 2015 compared to 2006, with additional species observed in speared catch in 2015 that were absent in 2006. To reverse continuing declines and prevent the potential for fisheries collapse, government needs to institute rights-based management, ban the use of nighttime spearfishing and small-mesh gillnets, and improve existing enforcement within marine protected areas and markets.


Kevin L. Rhodes, Dalia X. Hernandez-Ortiz, Javier Cuetos-Bueno, McKye Ioanis, Welbert Washington, Ryan Ladore

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