MEPS 333:13-25 (2007)  -  doi:10.3354/meps333013

Seasonal and diel movements of giant trevally Caranx ignobilis at remote Hawaiian atolls: implications for the design of Marine Protected Areas

Carl G. Meyer1,*, Kim N. Holland1, Yannis P. Papastamatiou2

1Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, PO Box 1346, Coconut Island, Kaneohe, Hawaii 96744, USA
2Department of Zoology, Edmonson Hall, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii 98822, USA

ABSTRACT: We need to understand the long-term movement patterns of coral reef top predators in order to design marine protected areas that will provide these animals with effective, long-term protection. We used acoustic telemetry to quantify the movements of giant trevally, a large coral reef top predator, at 5 atolls in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument. We did not observe any inter-atoll movements but found that giant trevally were attached to core activity areas from which they made periodic atoll-wide excursions of up to 29 km. Within the core areas, the tagged fish exhibited diel habitat shifts. We identified Rapture Reef at French Frigate Shoals (FFS) atoll as a spawning site, where giant trevally form seasonal mating aggregations. Giant trevally that use Rapture Reef as their core daytime area live there year-round, whereas those that occupy other areas of FFS migrate to Rapture Reef in the summertime during specific phases of the moon. Although giant trevally were wide-ranging and would require large marine protected areas (e.g. entire atolls or islands) to protect their entire range, core activity areas and spawning sites for giant trevally could be contained within relatively small marine protected areas. Identification of spawning sites could assist in the establishment of focused marine protected areas that, while quite small in size, could have significant impact in preserving the spawning biomass of this species. Very large marine protected areas are not feasible in most heavily populated areas, hence effective alternative management strategies must be found for this fishery-targeted, wide-ranging top predator. We suggest using a combination of relatively small marine protected areas, to protect core activity areas and spawning sites for giant trevally, and conventional measures such as minimum size or ‘slot’ limits to further safeguard spawning stocks.

KEY WORDS: Top predator · Marine Protected Areas · MPAs · Spawning migrations · Diel migrations · Acoustic monitoring · Giant trevally · Caranx ignobilis · Carangidae

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