Spatial patterns and environmental risks of ringnet fishing along the Kenyan coast
Ringnet fishing began in the early 20th century and is practised worldwide, mainly to target nearshore pelagic species. The method was introduced to Kenya’s coastal waters by migrant fishers from Tanzania. However, the impacts of this fishing gear remain poorly assessed. We assessed the spatial distribution of ringnet fishing effort and its possible effects on ecosystem components, such as coral reefs, marine megafauna and marine protected areas, on the South coast of Kenya. We tracked 89 ringnet fishing trips made from December 2015 to January 2016 and used spatial multicriteria analysis to determine hotspots of possible environmental risks. The results showed that habitat type and bathymetric profile influenced the spatial distribution of ringnet fishing effort. Mixed seagrass and coral habitats had the highest concentration of the effort. Most of the habitats in the study area were moderately exposed to the impacts of the ringnet fishery. The study identifies high-risk areas that require spatial measures to minimise possible environmental risks of the gear both to habitats and to endangered sea turtles.
Keywords: coral reefs, habitat distribution, fishing pressure, marine spatial planning, risk assessment, sea turtles, spatial multicriteria analysis Coastal and marine ecosystems worldwide are experiencing immense pressure from overfishing, land-based pollution, habitat degradation and the increasing