Review of fish trap fisheries from tropical and subtropical reefs: main features, threats and management solutions
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Fish traps are extensively used in tropical and subtropical reef fisheries. Despite this, there is a significant lack of extensive and consecutive research concerning the basic aspects of trap fishing. We herein compile the available information from the main coral and rocky reef fish trap fisheries, and compared their main aspects (i.e., mesh size, CPUE, catch composition, ghost fishing, and management) to assess the dynamics of these fisheries and their environmental impact. The analysis revealed that most fish stocks showed declining trends, with only few species under heavy management being capable of withstanding high fishing pressure. In other fisheries, due to fishing down the web, miscellaneous reef fish comprised the bulk of the catch, while the proportion of high-value landed species was insignificant. Gear restrictions remain the most common management method in trap fisheries; however, even the minimum mesh size has not been ubiquitously enforced, while due to great variability of targeted fish species, use of a uniform mesh size is highly unlikely. Other management tools, such as, restrictions in effort, size, and species, temporal and spatial closures were also widely used, but effective only when well enforced and interconnected. Rates of trap loss widely differed as well as the reported rates of ghost fishing mortality. In most cases, incorporation of escape panels resulted in almost complete elimination of ghost fishing. However, further research is required concerning these issues.