How do seaweed farms influence local fishery catches in a seagrass-dominated setting in Chwaka Bay, Zanzibar?
Seaweed farming is often depicted as a sustainable form of aquaculture, contributing to poverty reduction and financial revenues in producer countries. However, farms may negatively affect seagrasses and associated organisms (e.g. invertebrate macrofauna) with possible effects on the flow of ecosystem goods and services to coastal societies. The present study investigates the influence of a seaweed farm, and the farmed seaweed Eucheuma denticulatum in particular, on fishery catches using a traditional fishing method (“madema” basket traps) in Chwaka bay (Zanzibar, Tanzania). The results suggest that a seaweed farm, compared to a seagrass bed, had no influence on catch per unit effort (no. of individuals per catch, or catch weight) or no. of species per catch, but significantly affected catch composition (i.e. how much that was caught of which species). The two species contributing most to differences between the sites were two economically important species; the herbivorous seagrass rabbit fish Siganus sutor, which was more common in the seaweed site and is known to graze on the farmed algae; and the benthic invertebrate feeder chloral wrasse Cheilinus chlorourus, more common in the seagrass site. Compared to vegetation-free bottoms, however, the catches were 3−7 times higher, and consisted of a different set of species (ANOSIM global R > 0.4). As traps placed close to the seaweeds fished three times more fish than traps placed on sand patches within the seaweed farm, the overall pattern is attributed to the presence of submerged vegetation, whether seagrass or seaweed, probably as shelter and/or food for fish. However, qualitative differences in terms of spatial and temporal dynamics between seagrass beds with and without seaweed farms, in combination with other factors such as institutional arrangements, indicate that seaweed farms cannot substitute seagrass beds as fishing grounds.
Auteurs du document :
Johan S. Eklöf, Maricela de la Torre-Castro, Camilla Nilsson, Patrik Rönnbäck
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Mots clés :
Artisanal fisheries, Fish trap catches, Seaweed farming, Aquaculture, Rhodophyta, Meadows, Seagrass loss, Indian Ocean