The physical, biochemical and socioeconomic impacts of blast fishing, cyanide fishing and bottom trawling on coral reefs

M. Dumais \ Oceans First, Issue 5, 2018, pgs. 1-7.  Download PDF


Coral reefs are in decline worldwide due to anthropogenic stressors including coral bleaching, but also by illegal fishing methods. Illegal fishing methods affect the physical structure of coral reefs, marine trophic webs and fish dependant on reefs. Illegal unreported and unregulated fishing methods (UUI) like blast, cyanide fishing and bottom trawling compromise the 3- dimensional habitat that coral structures provide to other species, induces biological function changes, and reshapes the seafloor composition, thus limiting coral recovery. The global rate at which biodiversity and biomass are lost due to illegal fishing methods remain unknown along with coral’s recovery period. The purpose of this literature review is to increase knowledge and awareness about the main impacts of blast, cyanide fishing and bottom trawling on coral reef habitats, while considering the socioeconomic context. This review aims to point out realistic marine management strategies to effectively reduce illegal fishing. Filling knowledge gaps such as UUI impacts on the marine biodiversity and populations can also improve marine management to regulate harvesting quotas, adapt fisheries management and mitigate species extinction risk. Future research should include statistically studying organisms affected by UUI and tracking species and their population dynamics and fluctuations.