Environmental Conservation

Papers

Finfish disappearances around Bohol, Philippines inferred from traditional ecological knowledge

MARGARITA N. LAVIDESa1a2 c1, NICHOLAS V. C. POLUNINa1, SELINA M. STEADa1, DON GEOFF TABARANZAa2, MIA THERESA COMEROSa3 and JESUS RAY DONGALLOa4

a1 School of Marine Sciences and Technology, Newcastle University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE1 7RU, UK

a2 Haribon Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources, 2F Santos and Sons Building, 973 Aurora Boulevard, Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines

a3 Department of Biological Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk VA 23529-0266, USA

a4 Project Seahorse Foundation for Marine Conservation, Gaviola Compound, Maria Theresa Village, II Barangay, Guadalupe, Cebu City 6000, Philippines

SUMMARY

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.

(Received March 03 2009)

(Accepted November 30 2009)

Correspondence

c1 Correspondence: Dr Margarita N. Lavides, Environmental Science Department, Ateneo De Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City, Philippines e-mail: lavides@yahoo.com or mlavides@ateneo.edu