Investigating Fishing Impacts in Nigerian Coastal Waters For Peer Review Only Using Marine Trophic Index Analyses 




Adebola, Tunde M
de Mutsert, Kim

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Marine and Coastal Fisheries


In Nigerian coastal waters (NCW), fishing has increased steadily over the last seven decades. Artisanal fisheries cover the entire 850‐km length of the coast, where over 1 million fishermen exploit estuarine and oceanic resources up to 40 m deep, and approximately 250 industrial trawlers target fish resources in deeper waters beyond the first 9.26 km (5 nautical miles) from shore. We investigated the hypothesis that growth in fishing effort will increase impacts on coastal fish stocks, as reflected by significant reductions in the mean trophic level (MTL) and maximum mean length of the catch and an increase in the fishing‐in‐balance index. Our analyses are based on a 60‐year time series from 1950 to 2010 (obtained from the Sea Around Us Project; Results showed that the impacts of fishing in NCW are high. The sustained increases in landings from the 1970s to the 2000s have resulted in less productive coastal fisheries, a reduction in the MTL of the catch (which might mean reduced biodiversity), a reduction of average size in the fisheries, and the need to expand further into deeper waters to maintain catch levels. This research contributes to fisheries ecology by furthering our understanding of coastal fisheries and their impacts on marine biodiversity.