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Seasonal, diel, and tidal movements of green jobfish (Aprion virescens, Lutjanidae) at remote Hawaiian atolls: implications for marine protected area design

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Abstract

Empirical data quantifying the long-term movement patterns of coral reef top predators are needed in order to design marine protected areas (MPAs) that will provide these fishes with effective, long-term protection. Acoustic telemetry was used to quantify the movements of a large coral reef top predator (Aprion virescens, Lutjanidae; Hawaiian name ‘uku’) at five atolls in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument (NWHIMNM) from May 2005 to September 2006. The study atolls were located between 23.8°N, 166.2°W and 28.5°N, 178.3°W, and were separated from their nearest receiver-equipped neighbor by distances ranging from 100 to 478 km. No inter-atoll movements by uku were detected but individuals were seasonally site-attached to core activity areas of up to 12 km in length, and ranged up to 19 km across atolls. Within their core areas, tagged uku exhibited diel and tidal habitat shifts, with the latter resulting in round trips of up to 24 km in 24 h. Seasonal uku migrations resulted in extended winter (October–April) absences from summer (May–September) core activity areas and may be linked to summer spawning. Large MPAs (i.e., entire islands, atolls or banks) would probably be required for full protection of resident populations of adult uku, but such ‘island-scale’ MPAs will not benefit fisheries unless there is significant larval supply from MPAs to neighboring fished areas, or adult emigration over time scales exceeding the 16-month monitoring period of this study. A mixed management strategy of combining smaller MPAs with conventional measures (e.g., minimum size limits, catch, and effort restrictions) may be the best approach for sustaining uku fisheries. However, this would still require relatively large MPAs (12 km in length) to contain uku short-term (diel and tidal) movements, and seasonal migrations would still take uku beyond the boundaries of MPAs of this size. These fluxes across MPA boundaries could supply fish to fisheries but, if high exploitation rates exist, fishing could eliminate key MPA benefits such as increased numbers of large, highly fecund individuals.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the crew of the NOAA ship Hi’ialakai especially coxswains M. Gordon, G. Maurizio, J. Kehn, and S. Jones for scientific mission support. We thank R. Kosaki, B. Bowen, M. Craig, J. Zamzow, and P. Santos for their assistance in the field. We thank R. Brainard (NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Coral Reef Ecosystem Division) for providing us with berths on the September 2006 NWHIMNM research and monitoring cruise. We are grateful to J. Gove, D. Merrit, and E. Lundblad for assistance with generating tidal curves for PHR. This study was funded by an award to Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology from the National Marine Sanctuary Program (MOA 2005-008/6882). This work was carried out in accordance with the animal use protocols of the University of Hawaii (protocol No. 05-053). This work was conducted under NOAA-NWHICRER permit No. 2005-010, NOAA- NWHIMNM- permit No. 2006-012, US Fish and Wildlife Special Use Permits No. 12521-05020, No. 12521-06021, and No. 12521-06048, and State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources permits No. DLNR.NWHI06R003 and No. DLNR.NWHI06R019. The experiments carried out during this study complied with the current laws of the USA.

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Correspondence to Carl G. Meyer.

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Communicated by J.P. Grassle.

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Meyer, C.G., Papastamatiou, Y.P. & Holland, K.N. Seasonal, diel, and tidal movements of green jobfish (Aprion virescens, Lutjanidae) at remote Hawaiian atolls: implications for marine protected area design. Mar Biol 151, 2133–2143 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-007-0647-7

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