Fishing is the most widespread human exploitative activity on tropical reefs and the survival of many coastal societies is dependent on the productivity of their fisheries. Existing fishery management strategies focus primarily on target fish populations, but they may not be appropriate when fishing initiates shifts in the reef ecosystem. Such shifts may not be reversible, and can impair the processes which guarantee future fish production. We describe a number of alternative approaches to management and consider which of these may help to maximize yield whilst minimizing the probability of unwanted ecosystem shifts. One of these approaches is already adopted by a number of island societies but, ironically, it has proved to be incompatible with many fishery development programs.
Jennings, S.; Polunin, N.V.C. Impacts of fishing on tropical reef ecosystems. AMBIO (1996) 25 (1) 44-49.