Length-based assessment of sustainability benchmarks for coral reef fishes in Puerto Rico

Jerald S. Ault, Steven G. Smith, Jiangang Luo, Mark E. Monaco, Richard S. Appeldoorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


The sustainability of multispecies coral reef fisheries is a key conservation concern given their economic and ecological importance. Empirical estimation and numerical model analyses were conducted to evaluate exploitation status via resource reference points (or sustainability benchmarks) for coral reef fishes of the snapper-grouper complex in Puerto Rico. Mean size (L, in length) of animals in the exploited part of the population was estimated from fishery-dependent and fishery-independent size composition data and used as an indicator variable of exploitation rates. In application, fishing mortality rates estimated from L of various data sources were comparable. Of the 25 reef fish species assessed, 16 were below 30% spawning potential ratio (SPR), six were above 30% SPR, and three could not be reliably determined owing to low sample sizes. These findings indicate that a majority of snapper-grouper species in Puerto Rico are currently fished at unsustainable levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-231
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Conservation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Average size
  • Coral-reef fish
  • Fishery exploitation
  • Puerto Rico

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Water Science and Technology


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