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Mangroves Increase Fishery Yields in Study

CALIFORNIA, US - Mangroves are disappearing rapidly worldwide despite their well documented biodiversity and the ecosystem services they provide.

According to new research, failure to link ecological processes and their societal benefits has favored highly destructive aquaculture and tourism developments that threaten mangroves and result in costly externalities.

Specifically, the potentially irreparable damage to fisheries because of mangrove loss has been belittled and is greatly underestimated.

Researchers have shown that in the Gulf of California, fisheries landings are positively related to the local abundance of mangroves and, in particular, to the productive area in the mangrovewater fringe that is used as nursery and/or feeding grounds by many commercial species.

Mangrove-related fish and crab species account for 32% of the small-scale fisheries landings in the region. The annual economic median value of these fisheries is US $37,500 per hectare of mangrove fringe, falling within the higher end of values previously calculated worldwide for all mangrove services together.

The ten-year discounted value of one hectare of fringe is >300 times the official cost set by the Mexican government. The destruction of mangroves has a strong economic impact on local fishing communities and on food production in the region. The valuation of the services provided by mangroves may prove useful in making appropriate decisions for a more efficient and sustainable use of wetlands.

Ellen Hardy

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