MEPS 166:231-236 (1998)  -  doi:10.3354/meps166231

Coelacanth population, conservation and fishery activity at Grande Comore, West Indian Ocean

Raphaäl Plante1,*, Hans Fricke2, Karen Hissmann2

1Centre d'Océanologie de Marseille, Station Marine d'Endoume, Rue de la Batterie des Lions, F-13007 Marseille, France 2Max-Planck-Institut für Verhaltensphysiologie, D-82319 Seewiesen, Germany

The only known population of coelacanths, in the Comores, western Indian Ocean, is endangered by human predation. Historical catch data from Grande Comore reveal that annual catch rates increased steadily from 1954 until the 1970s. This trend was temporarily interrupted due to an international policy introducing motorized boats and promoting offshore fishing techniques. Coelacanths are only caught from traditional unmotorized outrigger canoes as an incidental by-catch of deep water line fishing. A complete survey of all motorized and unmotorized vessels in 1995 at Grande Comore in comparison to earlier years indicated that a recent decreased use of motors and increase of unmotorized canoe fishing has led to an increase in coelacanth catches. Conservation measures and strategies for reducing the fishing pressure exerted on coelacanths are discussed. The southwest coast of Grande Comore should be designated as a nature reserve and protected area where immediate protection measures should be taken, an opinion which is supported by Comorian authorities.


Coelacanth · Latimeria · Comoro Islands · Conservation measurements


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