Impacts of Fish Trap Fisheries on Coral Reefs near Ko Mak and Ko Kut, Trat Province, Thailand

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Wichin Suebpala
Thamasak Yeemin
Makamas Sutthacheep
Sittiporn Pengsakun
Watchara Samsuvan
Ratana Chuenpagdee
Charoen Nitithamyong

Abstract

This study aims to enhance the knowledge of the operation of fish trap fisheries and their impacts on coral reefs through in situ underwater observation. A total of 82 fish traps were investigated during January-October 2016 near the islands of Ko Mak and Ko Kut, Trat Province, in the Eastern Gulf of Thailand. Approximately 24 % of the traps were in physical contact with juvenile corals and coral communities, particularly members of the family Fungiidae and Porites sp., resulting in physical damage of some corals. We found that the catch rates of fish traps ranged from 0.10 to 2.56 kg·trap-1·day-1 with a mean of 1.59 kg·trap-1·day-1. About 60 % of the total catch were target species, including groupers (Family Serranidae) and snappers (Family Lutjanidae), while the remaining 40 % were bycatch species. As many as 22 species were found in the bycatch, including 17 species of fish, four species of crustaceans and one species of sea cucumber. Based on functional groups, carnivorous fish were caught at the highest rate (mean CPUE = 1.34±0.79 kg·trap-1·day-1), while the mean CPUE of herbivorous fish was 0.19±0.17 kg·trap-1·day-1. In this study, six species of herbivorous fish were observed. Two of them were considered as corallivores: Scarus ghobban and Monacanthus chinensis. This study provides understanding of the interaction of fish trap fisheries and the coral reef ecosystem in terms of the physical damage to coral reefs and the loss of targeted and bycatch species, which may alter the overall ecological function of the coral reef ecosystem.

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