Reproductive capacity of Pacific fishes: improving understanding for sustainable fisheries

Subsistence and small-scale commercial fishing that use traditional techniques are important socioeconomic activities throughout the Pacific region (Roberts & Polunin 1993), and shallow-water coral-reef fishes form the majority of landings (e.g., Tokeshi et al. 2013). However, with increases in population, new technologies, and the increasing effects of changes in climate throughout the region, there is growing concern that coral-reef fisheries are being overexploited (Friedlander & DeMartini 2002, Pandolfi et al. 2003, McClanahan et al. 2008). The most-easily understood concept in fishery management and conservation is to harvest individuals only after they have reached reproductive size (Froese 2004). However, basic reproductive information is lacking for most fishes. Worldwide, reproductive size is unknown for approximately 83% of exploited fishes (Froese & Binohlan 2000). For example, for coral-reef fishes harvested by a Papua New Guinea subsistence community, size-at-maturity is unknown for 60% of the 57 species most commonly exploited (Longenecker et al. 2012a). This problem is not restricted to the coral reefs of developing nations; size-at-maturity is also unknown for 38% of the 13 most-heavily exploited reef fishes in Hawaii (Longenecker et al. 2008a).

The long-term goals of this project are to describe reproductive parameters for commonly utilized Pacific reef fish which are also poorly understood in terms of reproductive biology:

  1. Length-weight relationships
  2. Size-at-maturity
  3. Reproductive mode
  4. Size-specific sex ratios
  5. Size-fecudity relationships
  6. Reproductive periodicity

Such baseline data will provide important baseline information for the long-term and effective management of the fish within coral reef ecosystems throughout the Pacific, for sustainable use for human consumption and for maintaining populations for ecosystem health. 

Bishop Museum hosts workshops to train reef-fisheries managers and researchers how to perform rapid, low-cost, histology-based reproductive analysis (i.e., Jungle Histology).  To inquire about a workshop at your location, contact Ken Longenecker (

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