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Portable fish traps are a popular gear in reef fisheries, mainly in tropical and subtropical regions. As fish traps can be highly non-selective, catch composition may be composed of a variety of species. Commonly, fishers target predatory fish species of high trophic levels. However, in areas facing overfishing, there is a tendency towards a decrease in the proportion of these species in catches followed by their substitution with miscellaneous fish species of lower trophic levels, previously considered as by-catch, but nowadays marketable. In addition, some highly valuable fish species are commercially extinct and are caught rarely. In this review, we aim to shed light on the species targeted across the main trap fisheries worldwide, as well as to identify characteristics of these species that may be feasible to use as conservation tools to preserve stocks. Although a considerable number of species gain fishers’ attention, we have revealed a significant lack of information regarding their population dynamics. Almost 65 % of species of high fishery interest remain unexamined, and approximately 76.5 % of those that have been examined are decreasing in biomass or (and) abundance. Further research is required for the evaluation of the dynamics of fish populations and socioeconomic factors that influence fisheries management plans and decision-making for the retained and discarded species.
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