, Volume 61, Issue 2, pp 213-229

The Impact of Artisanal Fishery on a Tropical Intertidal Benthic Fish Community

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Abstract

We examined the benthic fishes and artisanal fishery in the intertidal flats of Inhaca Island, Mozambique. Results of a questionnaire indicated that catches had decreased, and that piscivorous fish have disappeared. Results of a catch sampling study indicated that current catch rates are low, < 2 kg person−1 fishing trip−1. Use of fishing gear was significantly related to season, diel and lunar tidal phase, and habitat. Forty-eight fish species were observed in the catches with eight species comprising 80% of the catch of 1814 specimens. The annual catch was estimated at 26.2 t for the whole bay. Highest fishing pressure was observed in the central section of the bay. A demersal fish survey was carried out with a 2-m beam trawl to sample the fish community. Two different areas were sampled, one area with a low, and one with a high fishing pressure. A total of 19 889 fishes were caught comprising 93 species. Gobies dominated the catches and accounted for 56% of all specimens. Fishes were small with a mean standard length of 29 mm. The Saco area exhibited the highest catch rates and biomass (maximum of 1040 fish 1000 m−2 and 1490 g 1000 m−2), and the highest species richness and evenness values. Catch composition was different between the two sampling areas, and was strongly affected by season, but less by habitat. Total fish biomass was estimated at 5.6 t for the whole area. Stomach content varied with habitat, and season, and was dominated by benthic invertebrates. The largest estimates of consumption were obtained in the tidal channel and the Zostera beds. Mean consumption of benthic organisms was 1.3 g AFDW m−2 yr−1. The area seemed to be overfished. The heavily fished areas exhibited lower catch rates, lower proportion of piscivorous fish, increased proportion of small fish, and a decrease in species diversity.