Effects of the 1998 coral morality event on Kenyan coral reefs and fisheries

Tim McClanahan*, Joseph Maina, Lida Pet-Soede

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Data were collected in southern Kenya on coral reef ecosystems and fisheries to assess the influence of the 1998 coral bleaching and mortality event. We compared benthic cover, sea urchin and fish abundance in unfished marine parks and fished reefs and the reef-associated fisheries 3 years before and after 1998. Hard and soft coral decreased while coralline algae increased in both management areas. Turf increased in marine parks and sponge and fleshy algae increased in the fished reefs. Sea urchin grazer biomass was unchanged over this period and the fish community changed less than benthic cover. In general, butterflyfish, damselfish and wrasses were negatively influenced while surgeonfish and a few uncommon families were positively influenced by the substratum change. There was a 17% increase in fishing effort as measured by fishermen per day at each landing site and the total demersal catch declined by 8% and the catch per man declined by 21% after 1998. The decline in the total catch and CPUE combined with the increase in effort suggest an overexploited fishery and this makes it difficult to distinguish changes caused by coral mortality or fishing effort. The price of fish increased over this period and this caused an 18% increase in the total value of the fishery but no difference in the net income of individual fishermen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-550
Number of pages8
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2002
Externally publishedYes


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