Illegal harvest is recognized as a widespread problem in natural resource management. The use of multiple methods for quantifying illegal harvest has been widely recommended yet infrequently applied. We used a mixed-method approach to evaluate the extent, character, and motivations of illegal gillnet fishing in Lake Hovsgol National Park, Mongolia and its impact on the lake’s fish populations, especially that of the endangered endemic Hovsgol grayling (Thymallus nigrescens). Surveys for derelict fishing gear indicate that gillnet fishing is widespread and increasing and that fishers generally use 3–4 cm mesh gillnet. Interviews with resident herders and park rangers suggest that many residents fish for subsistence during the spring grayling spawning migration and that some residents fish commercially year-round. Interviewed herders and rangers generally agree that fish population sizes are decreasing but are divided on the causes and solutions. Biological monitoring indicates that the gillnet mesh sizes used by fishers efficiently target Hovsgol grayling. Of the five species sampled in the monitoring program, only burbot (Lota lota) showed a significant decrease in population abundance from 2009–2013. However, grayling, burbot, and roach (Rutilus rutilus) all showed significant declines in average body size, suggesting a negative fishing impact. Data-poor stock assessment methods suggest that the fishing effort equivalent to each resident family fishing 50-m of gillnet 11–15 nights per year would be sufficient to overexploit the grayling population. Results from the derelict fishing gear survey and interviews suggest that this level of effort is not implausible. Overall, we demonstrate the ability for a mixed-method approach to effectively describe an illegal fishery and suggest that these methods be used to assess illegal fishing and its impacts in other protected areas.”
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Fonte: PLOS ONE – 1 de dezembro de 2015