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Demographics and exploitation of two Near Threatened freshwater eels, Anguilla bengalensis and Anguilla bicolor, in small-scale subsistence fisheries and implications for conservation.

Shanmughan, A., Dahanukar, N., Harrison, A., Pinder, A. C., Ranjeet, K. and Raghavan, R., 2022. Demographics and exploitation of two Near Threatened freshwater eels, Anguilla bengalensis and Anguilla bicolor, in small-scale subsistence fisheries and implications for conservation. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. (In Press)

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DOI: 10.1002/aqc.3765

Abstract

1. Tropical freshwater eels (Anguilla bengalensis and Anguilla bicolor) contribute a major share of the world’s wild-caught eel production, having become the next major target owing to the declines in availability of both A. japonica and A. anguilla, species that have traditionally contributed to eel aquaculture and trade. 2. Although both A. bengalensis and A. bicolor are assessed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List, these assessments are primarily based on anecdotal information and local knowledge on population declines. 3. Demographics and exploitation levels of A. bengalensis and A. bicolor were determined from small coastal river systems, and their adjoining aquascapes in the Western Ghats hotspot of southern peninsular India, and the value of these data for future conservation planning discussed. 4. The computed estimates of annual catch data for freshwater eels from the study region are between 0.17 (A. bicolor) to 0.30 t (A. bengalensis). Virtual population analysis of exploitation, showed a drastic decline (in number) in the length groups > 45 cm for both species, suggesting that they were less likely to attain their asymptotic length in the region. 5. Current exploitation rates of A. bengalensis are unsustainable, while those for A. bicolor are almost close to reaching this level. Exploitation of all life stages from yellow eels to adults (29–171 cm) are likely to cause recruitment failure, and significant mortality of spawning individuals of both species. 6. An integrative conservation approach including raising awareness (leading to voluntary restrictions), fishing closures in reservoirs, village-level quotas, and regular monitoring of populations will ensure a sustainable future for the freshwater eel species in the Western Ghats hotspot, and elsewhere in the tropics where these species are exploited.

Item Type:Article
ISSN:1052-7613
Uncontrolled Keywords:anguillid eels ; catadromy ; freshwater eel ; overfishing ; small-scale fisheries
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:36308
Deposited By: Unnamed user with email symplectic@symplectic
Deposited On:29 Nov 2021 11:39
Last Modified:05 Jan 2022 15:39

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