Spatial and temporal distribution of reef fish spawning aggregations in the Seychelles – an interview-based survey of artisanal fishers
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Many coral reef fish species aggregate at specific times and locations for the purpose of spawning. This study examined the spatial and temporal distribution of spawning aggregations in the Seychelles. An interview-based survey of the principal stakeholders, mainly artisanal fishers, yielded 89 reports of aggregation fishing for 26 demersal and semi-pelagic fish species. Grouper aggregations were largely concentrated in the outer coralline islands of the exclusive economic zone, whilst those of snappers and rabbitfishes were mainly reported from locations on the Seychelles Bank. The spatial patterns among fish families were attributed to a combination of differences in species abundance and distribution as well as variation in fishing effort. Spawning periodicity reported by fishers indicated that for snappers and rabbitfishes, the most activity occurred across a protracted period of October to April/May, with peaks in activity at either end of that period. Grouper spawning activity was concentrated in the northeast monsoon months of November to January. The findings of this study suggest that several spawning aggregations are targeted by fishers on a regular basis, a practice that constitutes a primary issue for artisanal fisheries research and management in the Seychelles.