Length-based assessment of coral reef fish populations in the main and Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

Marc O. Nadon, Jerald S. Ault, Ivor D. Williams, Steven G. Smith, Gerard T. Dinardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


The coral reef fish community of Hawaii is composed of hundreds of species, supports a multimillion dollar fishing and tourism industry, and is of great cultural importance to the local population. However, a major stock assessment of Hawaiian coral reef fish populations has not yet been conducted. Here we used the robust indicator variable "average length in the exploited phase of the population (L¯)", estimated from size composition data from commercial fisheries trip reports and fishery-independent diver surveys, to evaluate exploitation rates for 19 Hawaiian reef fishes. By and large, the average lengths obtained from diver surveys agreed well with those from commercial data. We used the estimated exploitation rates coupled with life history parameters synthesized from the literature to parameterize a numerical population model and generate stock sustainability metrics such as spawning potential ratios (SPR). We found good agreement between predicted average lengths in an unfished population (from our population model) and those observed from diver surveys in the largely unexploited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Of 19 exploited reef fish species assessed in the main Hawaiian Islands, 9 had SPRs close to or below the 30% overfishing threshold. In general, longer-lived species such as surgeonfishes, the redlip parrotfish (Scarus rubroviolaceus), and the gray snapper (Aprion virescens) had the lowest SPRs, while short-lived species such as goatfishes and jacks, as well as two invasive species (Lutjanus kasmira and Cephalopholis argus), had SPRs above the 30% threshold.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0133960
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 12 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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