Local Fishers’ Knowledge of Target and Incidental Seahorse Catch in Southern Vietnam

Abstract

Many vulnerable marine species are caught in small-scale fisheries that lack long-term records, thereby limiting the development of effective evidence-based management measures. To uncover recent trends in fish landings and value in the absence of historical data, we interviewed 77 fishers and five buyers on Phu Quoc Island in Southern Vietnam regarding their current and past fishing practices, with a focus on seahorse catches. Seahorses (Hippocampus spp.) are caught using multiple gear types (including trawls, crab nets, and compressor diving) and have both cultural and financial value. Most fishers catch seahorses incidentally, though 14 targeted them and made the majority of their income from their sale. Fishers reported that seahorse catch rates decreased by 86–95% from 2004 to 2014, while landed value simultaneously increased by 534%. If these reports are accurate, seahorse fishing on Phu Quoc is unsustainable and requires immediate management controls.

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Acknowledgements

This is a contribution from Project Seahorse. This study was made possible through collaborations with the Research Institute of Marine Fisheries, Viet Nam National University, the Viet Nam CITES Management Authority, and the Phu Quoc MPA staff. Many thanks to Do Thanh An and Nguyen Nhut Thanh, who provided assistance with data collection, translations, and logistics. Thank you to C. Kinzett, K. Gillespie, and others for their support and reviews. We greatly appreciate the support for this research provided by Mitacs and The Explorers Club, and the additional support provided by Guylian Chocolates Belgium, and an anonymous donor.

Funding

This study was funded in part through a Mitacs Globalink Research Award and an Explorers Club grant.

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Correspondence to A. P. Stocks.

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Stocks, A.P., Foster, S.J., Bat, N.K. et al. Local Fishers’ Knowledge of Target and Incidental Seahorse Catch in Southern Vietnam. Hum Ecol 47, 397–408 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-019-0073-8

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Keywords

  • Seahorses
  • Fisher interviews
  • Trawling
  • Diving
  • Catch decline
  • Target
  • Bycatch
  • Fisheries management
  • Phu Quoc island
  • South Vietnam