Environmental Conservation


Socioeconomic factors that lead to overfishing in small-scale coral reef fisheries of Papua New Guinea

J.E. CINNER a1a2c1 and T.R. McCLANAHAN a1
a1 Wildlife Conservation Society, Marine Programs, 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York, 10460 USA
a2 School of Tropical Environment Studies and Geography, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia

Article author query
cinner je   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
mcclanahan tr   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


The coral reefs of Papua New Guinea are among the most species diverse in the world, support an important artisanal fishery, but lack an effective national conservation programme. Increased commercialization, population growth, promotion of fisheries development projects, and the live reef food fish trade are expected to increase demand for the country's reef fish. This paper examines how socioeconomic factors affect the condition of the artisanal multi-species coral reef fishery in six sites in Papua New Guinea. Catch characteristics such as diversity, trophic level and body size by landing site were examined along a fishing pressure gradient. Both exogenous factors such as markets and endogenous factors such as fishing pressure were related to the condition of fish catch. In general, the trophic level and lengths of fish captured in Papua New Guinea were relatively high, but were reduced on reefs with high fishing effort near fish markets. Fisheries showed signs of depletion above c. 25 fishing trips per km2 per day and the proximity of markets was a better indicator of overfishing than human population size. A cross-scale approach to fisheries management is required in Papua New Guinea to coordinate decentralized local management, limit the intrusion of extractive enterprises, and develop policies that seek to minimize exogenous pressures on marine resources.

(Published Online May 4 2006)
(Received November 12 2005)
(Accepted February 25 2006)

Key Words: coral reefs; fishing effort; gear selectivity; overfishing; Papua New Guinea; socioeconomic.

c1 Correspondence: Dr Joshua Cinner, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, 4811 Australia, e-mail: joshua.cinner@jcu.edu.au