Seascape models reveal places to focus coastal fisheries management

Kostantinos A. Stamoulis, Jade M.S. Delevaux, Ivor D. Williams, Matthew Poti, Joey Lecky, Bryan Costa, Matthew S. Kendall, Simon J. Pittman, Mary K. Donovan, Lisa M. Wedding, Alan M. Friedlander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


To design effective marine reserves and support fisheries, more information on fishing patterns and impacts for targeted species is needed, as well as better understanding of their key habitats. However, fishing impacts vary geographically and are difficult to disentangle from other factors that influence targeted fish distributions. We developed a set of fishing effort and habitat layers at high resolution and employed machine learning techniques to create regional-scale seascape models and predictive maps of biomass and body length of targeted reef fishes for the main Hawaiian Islands. Spatial patterns of fishing effort were shown to be highly variable and seascape models indicated a low threshold beyond which targeted fish assemblages were severely impacted. Topographic complexity, exposure, depth, and wave power were identified as key habitat variables that influenced targeted fish distributions and defined productive habitats for reef fisheries. High targeted reef fish biomass and body length were found in areas not easily accessed by humans, while model predictions when fishing effort was set to zero showed these high values to be more widely dispersed among suitable habitats. By comparing current targeted fish distributions with those predicted when fishing effort was removed, areas with high recovery potential on each island were revealed, with average biomass recovery of 517% and mean body length increases of 59% on Oahu, the most heavily fished island. Spatial protection of these areas would aid recovery of nearshore coral reef fisheries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)910-925
Number of pages16
JournalEcological Applications
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Hawaii
  • LiDAR
  • coral reefs
  • essential habitat
  • fisheries replenishment
  • fishing effort
  • marine protected areas
  • marine reserve design
  • predictive modeling
  • recovery potential
  • spatial planning
  • species distribution modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology


Dive into the research topics of 'Seascape models reveal places to focus coastal fisheries management'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this