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When Does this Fish Spawn? Fishermen’s Local Knowledge of Migration and Reproduction of Brazilian Coastal Fishes

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Abstract

Fishermen’s local knowledge of fishing resources may be an important source of information to improve artisanal tropical fisheries management, such as those found in Brazil, where most data on fish biology is lacking. We aim to study the local ecological knowledge that Brazilian coastal fishers have about reproductive aspects (season, places and migration) of 13 coastal fish species of commercial importance. We selected fishermen with more than 30 years of fishing practice and we interviewed a total of 67 fishermen: 29 from the southeastern coast, from the communities of Puruba, Almada, Picinguaba and Bertioga, and 38 from the northeastern coast, from the communities of Valença, Arembepe and Porto Sauípe. In the interviews, we used standardized questionnaires and showed photos of fish species. Our results indicate some general patterns in fishes’ reproduction according to fishermen knowledge: fish species spawn in open ocean, near reefs or in coastal rivers (estuaries); some fishes reproduce during the summer and others in winter, while some have more defined spawning months. The main fish migratory patterns mentioned by interviewees were: long migrations along the coast, usually in the South to North direction, short migrations among reefs, fishes that do not migrate, migrations between the shore and open ocean and migrations between the sea and coastal rivers. Fishermen’s knowledge differed among fish species: most fishermen did not know spawning places or seasons of large pelagic fishes, which raised concerns of their possible depletion. We compared such ethnoichthyological information with available scientific data, indicating promising insights about reproduction and migration of Brazilian coastal fishes. Data gathered from local fishermen may provide inexpensive and prompt information, potentially applicable to fisheries management. Our approach might be useful to several other small-scale fisheries, especially the tropical ones, where there is a high diversity of target species and a low biological and ecological knowledge about these species.

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Acknowledgements

We thank to Brazilian fishermen of the studied communities for their kind cooperation, to P. Zahorcsak for help in the fieldwork and data analyses; E. Camargo for help in the fieldwork, to A.S. Melo for advice in statistical analyses; to FAPESP for financial support through research projects (01/05263-2, 01/14526-7 and 04/02309-1) and for grants to R.A.M. Silvano (01/07247-4) and to R.V. Lima (03/04154-0); to CNPq, for a productivity scholarships to A. Begossi and to CAPES (Brazil) and MARES (Netherlands) for financial support to present an earlier version of this paper in a scientific conference.

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Correspondence to R. A. M. Silvano.

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Silvano, R.A.M., MacCord, P.F.L., Lima, R.V. et al. When Does this Fish Spawn? Fishermen’s Local Knowledge of Migration and Reproduction of Brazilian Coastal Fishes. Environ Biol Fish 76, 371–386 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10641-006-9043-2

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