African Journal of Marine Science

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Optimisation of underwater visual census and controlled angling methods for monitoring subtidal temperate reef fish communities

RH Bennett, A Götz, WHH Sauer, PD Cowley, RM Palmer


Standardised sampling protocols for monitoring fish stocks are essential to assess changes in stock status and provide a means to evaluate the effectiveness of fisheries management measures, such as marine protected areas (MPAs). This study aimed to optimise two standard sampling methods, namely underwater visual census (UVC) and controlled angling, for assessing subtidal reef fish communities. In terms of efficiency, variability and bias, UVC transects were found to be superior to point counts. For controlled angling, an effort of two angler-hours per fishing station provided low catch variability, high catch per unit effort and a representative catch. Whereas UVC provided less variable estimates of relative density, controlled angling provided greater sampling efficiency. It is thus recommended that the two methods be used in conjunction. The optimal sampling protocols identified are suitable for rapid assessments or long-term monitoring of subtidal, temperate reef fish communities.

Keywords: catch per unit effort; Chrysoblephus laticeps; fisheries management; instantaneous area point count; linefish; marine protected area; strip transect; variability

African Journal of Marine Science 2009, 31(3): 277–287

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