Characterization and management of the commercial sector of the Pohnpei coral reef fishery, Micronesia

K. L. Rhodes*, M. H. Tupper, C. B. Wichilmel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Commercial coral reef fisheries in Pohnpei (Micronesia) extract approximately 1,521 kg of reef fish daily (∼500 MT year-1) from 152 km2 of surrounding reef. More than 153 species were represented during surveys, with 25 species very common or common within combined-gear catch. Acanthurids contributed the greatest to catch volume, with bluespine unicornfish, Naso unicornis, and orangespine unicornfish, Naso lituratus, among the most frequently observed herbivores. Nighttime spearfishing was the dominant fishing method and inner lagoon areas were primarily targeted. A seasonal sales ban (March-April), intended to reduce pressure on reproductively active serranids, significantly increased the capture volume of other families. Catch was significantly greater during periods of low lunar illumination, suggesting higher fishing success or greater effort, or both. The marketed catch was dominated by juveniles and small adults, based on fishes of known size at sexual maturity. Artificially depressed market prices appear to be catalyzing (potential or realized) overfishing by increasing the volume of fish needed to offset rising fuel prices. These results support the need for comprehensive fisheries management that produces sustainable fishing and marketing practices and promotes shared management and enforced responsibilities between communities and the state. To be effective, management should prohibit nighttime spearfishing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-454
Number of pages12
JournalCoral Reefs
Issue number2
Early online date9 Nov 2007
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2008


  • Coral reef fishery
  • Marine protected areas
  • Micronesia
  • Precautionary management
  • Spearfishing


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