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Changes in the trophic structure, abundance and species diversity of exploited fish assemblages in the artisanal fisheries of the northern coast, Senegal, West Africa

I Ndour
F Le Loc’h
J Kantoussan
M Thiaw
HD Diadhiou
JM Ecoutin
L Tito de Morais
OT Thiaw


This work investigates the effects of changes in both fishing pressure and the environment on the trophic dynamics, abundance and diversity of species in the artisanal commercial fisheries off the northern coast of Senegal. Using artisanal commercial fishing data (provided by the Centre for Oceanographic Research of Dakar-Thiaroye [CRODT] in Senegal), we identify changes in the catch per unit effort, mean trophic level, biomass trophic spectrum and species diversity between two fishing periods (1990–1999 and 2000–2009). Decreases in mean trophic level, the biomass of high trophic level species and indices of species diversity between 1990 and 2009 were observed in commercial catches. These decreases were then related to changes in fishing pressure, fishing strategy and the combined effects of fishing and environmental factors (as derived from satellite observations). This paper helps to better inform the management of fisheries resources by providing decision makers with more effective biological indicators that incorporate the effects of fishing pressure and environmental change and that are applicable at local, regional and global scales.

Keywords: artisanal fishery, ecosystems indicators, trophic level

African Journal of Marine Science 2014, 36(3): 361–368