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  1. Abstract

    Marine food webs are structured through a combination of top‐down and bottom‐up processes. In coral reef ecosystems, fish size is related to life‐history characteristics and size‐based indicators can represent the distribution and flow of energy through the food web. Thus, size spectra can be a useful tool for investigating the impacts of both fishing and habitat condition on the health and productivity of coral reef fisheries. In addition, coral reef fisheries are often data‐limited and size spectra analysis can be a relatively cost‐effective and simple method for assessing fish populations. Abundance size spectra are widely used and quantify the relationship between organism size and relative abundance. Previous studies that have investigated the impacts of fishing and habitat condition together on the size distribution of coral reef fishes, however, have aggregated all fishes regardless of taxonomic identity. This leads to a poor understanding of how fishes with different feeding strategies, body size‐abundance relationships, or catchability might be influenced by top‐down and bottom‐up drivers. To address this gap, we quantified size spectra slopes of carnivorous and herbivorous coral reef fishes across three regions of Indonesia representing a gradient in fishing pressure and habitat conditions. We show that fishing pressure was the dominant driver of size spectra slopes such that they became steeper as fishing pressure increased, which was due to the removal of large‐bodied fishes. When considering fish functional groups separately, however, carnivore size spectra slopes were more heavily impacted by fishing than herbivores. Also, structural complexity, which can mediate predator‐prey interactions and provisioning of resources, was a relatively important driver of herbivore size spectra slopes such that slopes were shallower in more complex habitats. Our results show that size spectra slopes can be used as indicators of fishing pressure on coral reef fishes, but aggregating fish regardless of trophic identity or functional role overlooks differential impacts of fishing pressure and habitat condition on carnivore and herbivore size distributions.

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  2. Abstract

    Periodically harvested closures are a widespread, centuries‐old form of fisheries management that protects fish between pulse harvests and can generate high harvest efficiency by reducing fish wariness of fishing gear. However, the ability for periodic closures to also support high fisheries yields and healthy marine ecosystems is uncertain, despite increased promotion of periodic closures for managing fisheries and conserving ecosystems in the Indo‐Pacific.

    We developed a bioeconomic fisheries model that considers changes in fish wariness, based on empirical field research, and quantified the extent to which periodic closures can simultaneously maximize harvest efficiency, fisheries yield and conservation of fish stocks.

    We found that periodic closures with a harvest schedule represented by closure for one to a few years between a single pulse harvest event can generate equivalent fisheries yield and stock abundance levels and greater harvest efficiency than achievable under conventional fisheries management with or without a permanent closure.

    Optimality of periodic closures at maximizing the triple objective of high harvest efficiency, high fisheries yield, and high stock abundance was robust to fish life history traits and to all but extreme levels of overfishing. With moderate overfishing, there emerged a trade‐off between periodic closures that maximized harvest efficiency and no‐take permanent closures that maximized yield; however, the gain in harvest efficiency outweighed the loss in yield for periodic closures when compared with permanent closures. Only with extreme overfishing, where fishing under nonspatial management would reduce the stock to ≤18% of its unfished level, was the harvest efficiency benefit too small for periodic closures to best meet the triple objective compared with permanent closures.

    Synthesis and applications. We show that periodically harvested closures can, in most cases, simultaneously maximize harvest efficiency, fisheries yield, and fish stock conservation beyond that achievable by no‐take permanent closures or nonspatial management. Our results also provide design guidance, indicating that short closure periods between pulse harvest events are most appropriate for well‐managed fisheries or areas with large periodic closures, whereas longer closure periods are more appropriate for small periodic closure areas and overfished systems.

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