Overfishing is often cited as having a large negative impact on coral reefs. But until a team of researchers at the University of California, San Diegoâ€™s Scripps Institution of Oceanography looked into it, there was no global snapshot of key coral reef fishes and their ecological role in maintaining the balance of coral reef health.
"There was this missing link, you know overfishing of what and whatâ€™s the current status of overfishing of these important species that we know have a really important ecological role in maintaining that balance between corals and their seaweed competitors?"
Thatâ€™s Jennifer Smith, a marine ecologist who led the effort to compile the global data.
"We complied this global data set that allowed us to ask what the current status of coral reef herbivorous or grazing fishes was. We found that in fact, in fished areas these herbivorous fishes were reduced by greater than 50% in comparison to unfished areas or remote islands that donâ€™t have any local human populations."
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