A Paradigm Shift for Fisheries Management to Enhance Recovery, Resilience, and Sustainability of Coral Reef Ecosystems in the Red Sea
Andrew W. Bruckner, Hussain H. Alnazry, and Mohamed Faisal
Shallow water coral reefs are found in tropical areas, between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn to a maximum of about 50–75 m depth, in environments with suitable temperatures, salinity, light, nutrients, sediment, hydrodynamics, and seawater carbonate chemistry. Coral reefs are estimated to cover from 284,300 km2 (Spalding et al. 2001) to about 920,000 km2 when associated habitats are included in calculations (Costanza et al. 1997), with 91% of this area in the Indo-Pacific. The Red Sea, which is considered part of the Indo-Pacific region, contains the most biologically diverse reef communities outside of the Southeast Asia coral triangle; it shares many of the species found in other Indo-Pacific locations and also contains approximately 10% species level endemism (DeVantier et al. 2000). The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has the largest area of coral reefs (6,660-km2 reef area) in the Red Sea, extending more than 1,840 km from the Gulf of Aqaba in the north to the Farasan Islands, north of Yemen, in the south.
Coral reefs are the most complex ecosystem in the marine environment. This complexity is expressed in both the variety of interconnected benthic habitats and a vast array of associated biota, with representatives from 32 of the 34 described animal phyla. At least one-third of all known marine fishes spend at least some portion of their lives in coral reef habitats (Sale 2002); at least 4,000 Indo-Pacific species, 1,400 western Atlantic species, and about 1,100 eastern Atlantic and eastern Pacific species of reef fish have been described (Sale 1991; Spalding et al. 2001; Harmelin-Vivien 2002). The high diversity is largely due to the heterogeneous nature of coral reef habitat, which can accommodate large size-ranges of reef fishes and numerous functional niches in relatively small areas.