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Evaluating tools for the spatial management of fisheries

PhD student Steve Canty has published a new research describing a simple and cost-effective way to trace a fish's origin. The paper shows that morphometric analyses predict the origin of yellowtail snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus) more quickly, cheaply, and accurately than the well-established genetic methods and otolith microchemistry.

You can read the paper here, download it here, or read a Smithsonian Magazine article about it here.

Canty, S.W.J., Truelove, N.K., Preziosi, R.F., Chenery, S., Horstwood, M.A.S., Box, S.J. (2018) Evaluating tools for the spatial management of fisheries. J Appl Ecol. 2018;00:1–8.


  1. The ability to define the spatial dynamics of fish stocks is critical to fisheries management. Combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and the regulation of area‐based management through physical patrols and port side controls are growing areas of management attention. Augmenting the existing approaches to fisheries management with forensic techniques has the potential to increase compliance and enforcement success rates.

  2. We tested the accuracy of three techniques (genotyping, otolith microchemistry and morphometrics) that can be used to identify geographic origin. We used fish caught from three fishing grounds, separated by a minimum of 5 km and a maximum of 60 km, to test the accuracy of these approaches at relatively small spatial scales.

  3. Using nearest‐neighbour analyses, morphometric analysis was the most accurate (79.5%) in assigning individual fish to their fishing ground of origin. Neither otolith microchemistry (54.0%) or genetic analyses (52.4%) had sufficient accuracy at the spatial scales we examined.

Credit: International League of Conservation Photographers/Claudio Contreras-Koob

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