Use of total allowable catch to regulate a selective marine aquarium fishery
The Papua New Guinea (PNG) marine aquarium fishery was partly managed by total allowable catch (TAC) limits, implemented since the fishery's inception in 2008. Species-specific TACs, based on stock assessments conducted prior to the commencement of fishing, were established for all fish and invertebrate species presumed to be fished by the fishery. By analysing the selectivity of the PNG fishery in 2012, a large portion (74.9%) of the managed fish diversity (n = 267 species) was found to be “weakly” to “strongly” avoided relative to their availability. More than half (53.2%; n = 142) of the fish species with TACs were never fished in 2012. Of those species with TACs that were actually fished, 76.8% (n = 96) of fish and all invertebrate catches never exceeded 1% of their TACs. Catches of only seven fish species exceeded 10% of their TACs. Catch records also identified 124 fish species that were fished in the absence of species-specific TACs. Unbiased recursive partitioning was used to examine ecological attributes of these species to help identify flaws in the methods used for initial TAC assignment. Refining the role species-specific TACs play in the management of this fishery is necessary to optimise managerial resources. The lessons learned from this approach to marine aquarium fishery management are likely to be of interest and value to PNG, other developing island nations, and marine aquarium fisheries globally.