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15 Importance of Coral Reefs to the Fishing Industry

by Ranisa Alda

The coral reefs are underwater ecosystems that are diverse and being held together by the calcium carbonate structures that are secreted by the corals. The polyps of coral reefs belong to Cnidaria, and some other group of animals such as jellyfish and anemones. Coral reefs, or often called “rainforests of the sea”, mostly grow in shallow, clear, agitated, sunny, and warm water.

Although the coral reefs only take up less than one quarter of 1% of the total ocean environment, they are still highly considered very important for many sectors. Here in this article, we are going to specifically talk about the importance of coral reefs to the fishing industry.

  1. Income

The fishing industry that comes from the coral reefs can be huge income resources to the countries where they belong. The Great Barrier Reef’s fishing and tourism for example, contribute to more than 1.5 billion dollars every year to the Australian economy.

A research found that the fisheries that are based from coral reefs indeed provide billions of dollars to the economy of the countries where they belong around the globe. Each year, the worth of coral reef fisheries reaches up to $t.8 billion globally and over $100 million per year for the United States.

See also: Different Species of Coral

  1. High Species Diversity

The vast reefs are home to many different kind of marine life forms. The diverse life forms that seeks shelter in it then will attract people and build the tourism industry, as well as the source of fisheries as there are also lots of commercial fishes that regularly consumed by people.

See also: Effects of Coral Reef Destruction

  1. Food

As we have explained before, the coral reefs are home to many different kinds of species. One of the reasons why a lot of the life forms seeks shelter in the reefs is because it provides the many kinds of food to feed them which also consume different kinds of food.

See also: Causes of Coral Reef Destruction

  1. Recreation

Just like what have been explained too, the highly diverse life forms can attract the people and help the fisheries and tourism industries.

See also: Plants in the Coral Reef

  1. Significant Cultural and Spiritual Importance

The coral reefs are supposedly to be considered somehow sacred by the people. Therefore it impose such a significant cultural and spiritual importance, that can somehow preserve the fisheries around them too.

See also: Herbivores in the Coral Reef

  1. Important Ecological Functions

The life forms around it, for example the herbivores fish, can help to preserve the ecological functions of the reefs. Making it sustainable to be seen and benefits the future generations as well.

See also: Causes of Coral Bleaching

  1. Social Safety Net

The coral reefs and the fishery industries from them can be an important social safety net. One of the importance of coral reefs to the fishing industry is then to accomodate those who are unemployed. Whereas people can turn to them for income resources when the other sources of employment are unavailable.

See also: Importance of Artificial Coral Reefs

8. Fisheries Perseverance

As we have discussed too above, the coral reefs can be a place for many fish to spawn or spend time before they make their way to the open sea. Therefore, it can be easier too for the fishery industries to capture them.

See also: Types of Ocean Habitats

  1. Maintain Fish Shape, Color Patterns, and Feeding Apparatus

The coral reefs have shape the life forms in it into unique shapes that can be found exotic by many, affect their color patterns, and help them shape their feeding apparatus matching to their source of food. For example, many of the fish that lives in the reefs have evolved into thin, flattened bodies that are able to make sharp turns and maneuver quickly around the solid reefs. The color patterns can also help the life forms for the role of concealment, warning, and mate recognition.

See also: Destruction of Coral Reefs

Number of coral reef fish species in some regions (10-11):

  • In the Greater Caribbean region there are around 500 to 600 species of fish
  • In the Indo-Pacific region there are 8 to 10 times the number of those in the Greater Caribbean region

See also: Animals in the Coral Reef

Feeding Strategies of coral reef

As we explained before, the coral reefs are home to many fish species. Here are some of the major families of the coral reef fish species based on their feeding strategy (12-15):

  • Herbivores

As we probably already knew, the herbivores fish are those who mainly or even only consume plant material. Some example of herbivore fish species in the coral reefs are parrotfishes, surgeonfishes, rabbitfishes, and damelsfishes.

See also: Conservation of Coral Reef

  • Planktivores

Planktivores are the fish species that only consume the zooplankton or small animal planktons. The planktivores are divided again into three types, that are:

  • Benthic Planktivores

This type of planktivore will avoid the dangers of the open-water and choose to stay close to the safety reef instead or remaining close to the nearby benthic habitat for capturing their tiny prey. The benthic planktivores is a diverse group of some small daytime plankton feeders.

  • Open Water Plankton Feeders

As opposite to the benthic type, this type of planktivores swims on the open water to capture their prey. The fish species that are included in this type are for example sea basses, surgeonfishes, snappers, and wrasses.

  • Nocturnal Planktivores

When night comes, the day planktivores then will retreat to seek shelters within the reef and will then be replaced by the nocturnal ones. The nocturnal planktivores can adapt to the low of light conditions. Fish species that are included in this type are for example the squirrelfishes, cardinalfishes, and soldierfishes.

  • Benthic Carnivores

Benthic carnivores, or can also be called as “benthivores”, are the type of fish species that prey on a variety of other animals within the sea or near the sea floor. Fish that included into this type are including grunts, snappers, triggerfishes, and butterflyfishes, gobies, blennies, wrasses, and goatfishes.

  • Piscivores

This type of coral reef fish will prey entirely or mostly on the other fishes. There are three different basic hunting strategies for this type of coral reef fish species, which are:

  •  Stalking predators

As the title would have gave you the idea, the fishes included in this type will utilize stealth to approach their prey before striking them. They usually have slender and elongated bodies that can provide minimal head-on profile to their prey. Examples of this type of fish including barracudas, trumpetfishes, and needlefishes.

  • Ambush predators

The fishes who use this strategy would disguise and stay still to hunt their prey. They will wait motionlessly until unsuspected victims swim into their strike range. The fishes included in this type including lizardfishes, scorpionfishes, flatfishes, and groupers.

  • Pursuing predators

As the opposite to the two types above, the fishes included in this type will rely on their sheer speed to hunt down the other fishes. The fishes included in this type, such as mackerels, jacks, and many sharks, have streamlined bodies to support their hunt strategy and are capable of extremely fast attacks.

Those were some of the importance of coral reefs to the fishing industry as well as some additional information regarding the coral reefs fishery that you may never know before. We hope that this article will help you further understand the importance of our reefs, and specifically, in the fishing industry area.

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