Macroalgal habitats support tropical fish and fisheries
A global meta-analysis, including 23 locations and 11 countries, found that macroalgal meadows support tropical fish and fisheries. Macroalgae have a bad reputation because they compete with live coral and may outcompete corals when the system is subjected to disturbances like fishing or climate change, says Charlotte Berkström, researcher at the Department of Aquatic Resources (SLU Aqua).
"However, our study shows that macroalgae are not only bad. Naturally occurring macroalgal meadows support large numbers of fish and may function as important feeding and nursery areas, similar to seagrass beds".
These areas have also been found to be highly important for local food and livelihood security. For example, macroalgal associated species can make up as much as 60% of landings in Kenyan reef fisheries. Like coral, macroalgae are sensitive to changes in climate. Macroalgal canopy condition can vary substantially with sea temperature and hence there is a high likelihood that climate change will impact macroalgal-associated fish and fisheries. Acknowledging macroalgal meadows as important habitat for fish and fisheries and including them in marine spatial planning and management actions is highly encouraged.
The article has been published in Fish and Fisheries: Macroalgal meadow habitats support fish and fisheries in diverse tropical seascapes