Research ArticleSCIENCE POLICY

Diversification insulates fisher catch and revenue in heavily exploited tropical fisheries

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Science Advances  21 Feb 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 8, eaaz0587
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz0587


Declines in commercial landings and increases in fishing fleet power have raised concerns over the continued provisioning of nutritional and economic services by tropical wild fisheries. Yet, because tropical fisheries are often data-poor, mechanisms that might buffer fishers to declines are not understood. This data scarcity undermines fisheries management, making tropical fishing livelihoods particularly vulnerable to changes in marine resources. We use high-resolution fisheries data from Seychelles to understand how fishing strategy (catch diversification) influences catch rates and revenues of individual fishing vessels. We show that average catch weight decreased by 65% over 27 years, with declines in all nine species groups coinciding with increases in fishing effort. However, for individual vessels, catch diversity was associated with larger catches and higher fishing revenues and with slower catch declines from 1990 to 2016. Management strategies should maximize catch diversity in data-poor tropical fisheries to help secure nutritional security while protecting fishing livelihoods.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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