Coral Reefs

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 455–465 | Cite as

Community-based management fails to halt declines of bumphead parrotfish and humphead wrasse in Roviana Lagoon, Solomon Islands

  • Richard J. HamiltonEmail author
  • Alec Hughes
  • Christopher J. Brown
  • Tingo Leve
  • Warren Kama


Community-based fisheries management that integrates local knowledge and existing user rights is often seen as a solution to the failures of top-down fisheries management in the Pacific. In Roviana Lagoon, Western Solomon Islands, a network of community-based marine protected areas (MPAs) was established in the early 2000s to conserve declining populations of bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) and other locally valuable fish species such as humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus). We aimed to evaluate the success of these protected areas at preventing declines of B. muricatum and C. undulatus. We conducted 27 underwater visual census (UVC) surveys at permanent passage and outer reef monitoring sites in Roviana Lagoon in 2018 and compared our findings with results from 72 UVC surveys that we had conducted at the same sites 18 yrs earlier. We also interviewed Roviana spearfishers about their maximum nightly B. muricatum catches from 2018, the early 2000s and the 1980s. Abundances of all B. muricatum and C. undulatus sighted on UVC surveys declined by 62% and 57%, respectively, between 2000 and 2018, and abundances of adult B. muricatum and C. undulatus declined by 78% and 72%, respectively, over the same period. Using a joint model of B. muricatum abundance and its reported maximum catch, we estimated that in 2018 the population of B. muricatum was 8% of its 1980’s abundance. By modelling projected rates of decline over three generations, we show that populations of B. muricatum and C. undulatus in Roviana Lagoon meet the IUCN Red List thresholds for Critically Endangered (CR). The probable causes of these declines are sustained fishing pressure, poor enforcement of community-based management measures and loss of fish nursery habitats due to logging. Our findings suggest urgent co-management of the ridge-to-reef system is needed to prevent further fish population declines in Roviana Lagoon.


Bolbometopon muricatum Cheilinus undulatus Monitoring Local knowledge Coral Triangle Bayesian generalized linear model IUCN Red List 



We would like to express our sincere thanks to Ezekiel Kama for his humour and for captaining our dive boats on numerous occasions. RH extends his gratitude to the late Margert and Bailey Kama, for accepting him and his wife Sarah into their wider Nusabanga family in 2000. We are also grateful to all the Roviana spearfishermen of past and present who shared their local knowledge on Topa with us. We thank Professor Howard Choat for reviewing and improving and earlier version of this paper and Nate Peterson for producing Fig. 1. CJB was supported by the Global Wetlands Program and a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DE160101207) from the Australian Research Council.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

338_2019_1801_MOESM1_ESM.docx (54 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 54 kb)


  1. Albert S, Grinham A, Gibbes B, Tibbetts I (2014) Indicators of coral reef ecosystem recovery following reduction in logging and implementation of community-based management schemes in the Solomon Islands. Pac Conserv Biol 20:75–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andrews AH, Choat JH, Hamilton RJ, DeMartini EE (2015) Refined bomb radiocarbon dating of two iconic fishes of the Great Barrier Reef. Mar Freshw Res 66:305–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aswani S (1997) Customary sea tenure and artisanal fishing in the Roviana and Vonavona Lagoons, Solomon Islands: the evolutionary ecology of marine resource utilization. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HawaiiGoogle Scholar
  4. Aswani S, Hamilton RJ (2004a) Integrating indigenous ecological knowledge and customary sea tenure with marine and social science for conservation of bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) in the Roviana Lagoon, Solomon Islands. Environ Conserv 31:69–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Aswani S, Hamilton R (2004b) The value of many small v. few large marine protected areas in the Western Solomon Islands. Traditional marine resource management and knowledge information bulletin 16:3–14Google Scholar
  6. Aswani S, Sabetian A (2010) Implications of urbanization for artisanal parrotfish fisheries in the western Solomon Islands. Conserv Biol 24:520–530CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Aswani S, Flores CF, Broitman BR (2015) Human harvesting impacts on managed areas: ecological effects of socially-compatible shellfish reserves. Rev Fish Biol Fisheries 25:217–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Aswani S, Albert S, Love M (2017) One size does not fit all: critical insights for effective community-based resource management in Melanesia. Mar Policy 81:381–391CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Aswani S, Albert S, Sabetian A, Furusawa T (2007) Customary management as precautionary and adaptive principles for protecting coral reefs in Oceania. Coral Reefs 26:1009–1021CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bellwood DR, Hoey AS, Choat JH (2003) Limited functional redundancy in high diversity systems: resilience and ecosystem function on coral reefs. Ecol Lett 6:281–285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brown CJ, Hamilton RJ (2018) Estimating the footprint of pollution on coral reefs with models of species turnover. Conserv Biol 32:949–958CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brown CJ, Broadley A, Adame MF, Branch TA, Turschwell MP, Connolly RM (2019a) The assessment of fishery status depends on fish habitats. Fish and Fish 20:1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brown CJ, Jupiter SD, Albert S, Anthony KRN, Hamilton RJ, Fredston-Hermann A, Halpern BS, Lin H, Maina J, Mangubhai S, Mumby PJ, Possingham HP, Saunders MI, Tulloch VJD, Wenger A, Klein CJ (2019b) A guide to modelling priorities for managing land-based impacts on coastal ecosystems. Journal of Applied Ecology. Google Scholar
  14. Chan T, Sadovy Y, Donaldson TJ (2012) Bolbometopon muricatum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T63571A17894276. Downloaded 11 November 2018
  15. Choat JH, Pears R (2003) A rapid, quantitative survey method for large, vulnerable reef fishes. In: Wilkinson C, Green A, Almany J, Dionne S (eds) Monitoring coral reef marine protected areas. A practical guide on how monitoring can support effective management MPAs. Australian Institute of Marine Science and the IUCN Marine Program Publication, Townsville, pp 54–55Google Scholar
  16. Choat JH, Davies CR, Ackerman JL, Mapstone BD (2006) Age structure and growth in a large teleost, Cheilinus undulatus, with a review of size distribution in labrid fishes. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 318:237–246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cinner JE, Marnane MJ, McClanahan TR (2005) Conservation and community benefits from traditional coral reef management at Ahus Island, Papua New Guinea. Conserv Biol 19:1714–1723CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cohen PJ, Alexander TJ (2013) Catch rates, composition and fish size from reefs managed with periodically-harvested closures. PLoS One 8:e73383CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Colin PL, de Mitcheson YS (2012) Humphead wrasse—Cheilinus undulatus. In: Colin PL, de Mitcheson YS (eds) Reef fish spawning aggregations: biology, research and management. Springer Fish and Fisheries Series, vol 35. Springer Science + Business Media, New York, pp 478–487Google Scholar
  20. Davis AD, Wagner JR (2003) Who knows? On the importance of identifying “experts” when researching local ecological knowledge. Hum Ecol 31:463–489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Donaldson TJ, Dulvy NK (2004) Threatened fishes of the world: Bolbometopon muricatum (Valenciennes 1840) (Scaridae). Environ Biol Fish 70:373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dulvy NK, Polunin NVC (2004) Using informal knowledge to infer human-induced rarity of a conspicuous reef fish. Anim Conserv 7:365–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ensor JE, Abernethy KE, Hoddy ET, Aswani S, Albert S, Vaccaro I, Benedict JJ, Beare DJ (2018) Variation in perception of environmental change in nine Solomon Islands communities: implications for securing fairness in community-based adaptation. Reg Environ Change 18:1131–1143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fenner D (2014) Fishing down the largest coral reef fish species. Mar Pollut Bull 84:9–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fisheries Management Prohibited Activates (2018) Supplement to this Gazettee: Legal Notice No. 61. Schedule 3, p. 186. Printed on 27th August 2018 under the Authority of the Solomon Islands Government. Honiara, Solomon Islands. Pacific Printers LimitedGoogle Scholar
  26. Foale SJ (1998) Assessment and management of the trochus fishery at West Nggela, Solomon Islands: an interdisciplinary approach. Ocean Coast Manag 40:187–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Foale S, Cohen P, Januchowski-Hartley S, Wenger A, Macintyre M (2011) Tenure and taboos: origins and implications for fisheries in the Pacific. Fish Fish 12:357–369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Govan H, Tawake A, Tabunakawai K, Jenkins A, Lasgorceix A, Schwarz AM, Aalbersberg B, Manele B, Vieux C, Notere D, Afzal D (2009) Status and potential of locally-managed marine areas in the South Pacific: meeting nature conservation and sustainable livelihood targets through wide-spread implementation of LMMAs: Study ReportGoogle Scholar
  29. Green AL, Maypa AP, Almany GR, Rhodes KL, Weeks R, Abesamis RA, Gleason MG, Mumby PJ, White AT (2015) Larval dispersal and movement patterns of coral reef fishes, and implications for marine reserve network design. Biol Rev 90:1215–1247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hamilton RJ (2003) The role of indigenous knowledge in depleting a limited resource—a case study of the bumphead Parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) artisanal fishery in Roviana Lagoon, Western Province, Solomon Islands. In: Putting fishers’ knowledge to work conference proceedings, vol 11 no. 1, 27–30 Aug 2001. University of British Columbia, Canada. Fish Cent Res Rep, pp 68–77Google Scholar
  31. Hamilton RJ (2005) The demographics of bumphead Parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) in lightly and heavily fished regions of the Western Solomon Islands. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, p 273Google Scholar
  32. Hamilton RJ, Choat JH (2012) Bumphead parrotfish: Bolbometopon muricatum. In: de Mitcheson YS, Colin PL (eds) Reef fish spawning aggregations: biology, research and management. Springer fish and fisheries series, vol 35. Springer Science + Business Media, New York, pp 490–496Google Scholar
  33. Hamilton RJ, Adams S, Choat JH (2008) Sexual development and reproductive demography of the green humphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) in the Solomon Islands. Coral Reefs 27:153–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hamilton RJ, Potuku T, Montambault JR (2011) Community-based conservation results in the recovery of reef fish spawning aggregations in the Coral Triangle. Biol Conserv 144:1850–1858CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hamilton RJ, Giningele M, Aswani S, Ecochard JL (2012a) Fishing in the dark—local knowledge, night spearfishing and spawning aggregations in the Western Solomon Islands. Biol Conserv 145:246–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hamilton R, de Mitcheson YS, Aguilar-Perera A (2012b) The role of local ecological knowledge in the conservation and management of reef fish spawning aggregations. In: de Mitcheson YS, Colin PL (eds) Reef fish spawning aggregations: biology, research and management. Springer fish and fisheries series, vol 35. Springer Science + Business Media, New York, pp 331–370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hamilton RJ, Almany GR, Stevens D, Bode M, Pita J, Peterson NA, Choat JH (2016) Hyperstability masks declines in bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) populations. Coral Reefs. 35:751–763CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hamilton RJ, Almany GR, Brown CJ, Pita J, Peterson NA, Choat JH (2017) Logging degrades nursery habitat for an iconic coral reef fish. Biol Conserv 210:273–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Halpern BS, Selkoe KA, White C, Albert S, Aswani S, Lauer M (2013) Marine protected areas and resilience to sedimentation in the Solomon Islands. Coral Reefs 32:61–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. IUCN. (2012). Guidelines for Application of IUCN Red List Criteria at Regional and National Levels: Version 4.0. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN. iii + 41 ppGoogle Scholar
  41. IUCN Standards and Petitions Subcommittee (2017) Guidelines for using the IUCN Red List categories and criteria: version 13. Prepared by the Standards and Petitions Subcommittee.
  42. Johannes RE, Lam M (1999) The live reef food fish trade in the Solomon Islands. SPC Live Reef Fish Inf Bull 5:8–15Google Scholar
  43. Jupiter SD (2017) Culture, kastom and conservation in Melanesia: what happens when worldviews collide? Pac Conserv Biol 23:139–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Jupiter S, McCarter J, Albert S, Hughes A, Grinham A (2019) Solomon Islands: Coastal and marine ecosystems. In: World seas: an environmental evaluation (pp. 855–874). Academic PressGoogle Scholar
  45. Larsen SN, Leisher C, Mangubhai S, Muljadi A, Tapilatu RF (2018) Fisher perceptions of threats and fisheries decline in the heart of the Coral Triangle. Ocean Life 2:41–46Google Scholar
  46. Lavides MN, Molina EPV, de la Rosa GE, Mill AC, Rushton SP, Stead SM, Polunin NVC (2016) Patterns of coral-reef finfish species disappearances inferred from fishers’ knowledge in global epicentre of marine shorefish diversity. PLoS One 11:e0155752CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lindfield SJ, McIlwain JL, Harvey ES (2014) Depth refuge and the impacts of SCUBA spearfishing on coral reef fishes. PLoS One 9:e92628CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. McClure EC, Richardson LE, Graba-Landry A, Loffler Z, Russ GR, Hoey AS (2019) Cross-shelf differences in the response of herbivorous fish assemblages to severe environmental disturbances. Diversity 11(2):23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. McElreath R (2016) Statistical Rethinking: A Bayesian Course with Examples in R and Stan, vol 122. CRC Press, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  50. McMahon KW, Berumen ML, Mateo I, Elsdon TS, Thorrold SR (2011) Carbon isotopes in otolith amino acids identify residency of juvenile snapper (family: Lutjanidae) in coastal nurseries. Coral Reefs 30:1135–1145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Mills M, Pressey RL, Weeks R, Foale S, Ban NC (2010) A mismatch of scales: challenges in planning for implementation of marine protected areas in the Coral Triangle. Conserv Lett 3:291–303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Moseby KE, Labere JP, Read JL (2012) Landowner surveys inform protected area management: a case study from Tetepare Island, Solomon Islands. Hum Ecol 40:227–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Olds AD, Connolly RM, Pitt KA, Maxwell PS, Aswani S, Albert S (2014) Incorporating surrogate species and seascape connectivity to improve marine conservation outcomes. Conserv Biol 28:982–991CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Pauly D, Hilborn R, Branch TA (2013) Fisheries: does catch reflect abundance? Nature 494:303–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Pearse AR, Hamilton RJ, Choat JH, Pita J, Almany G, Peterson NA, Hamilton GS, Peterson EE (2018) Giant coral reef fishes display markedly different susceptibility to night spearfishing. Ecol Evol. Google Scholar
  56. Read JL, Argument D, Moseby KE (2010) Initial conservation outcomes of the Tetepare Island protected area. Pac Conserv Biol 16:173–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Rhodes KL, Hernandez-Ortiz DX, Cuetos-Bueno J, Ioanisc M, Washington W, Ladore R (2018) A 10-year comparison of the Pohnpei, Micronesia, commercial inshore fishery reveals an increasingly unsustainable fishery. Fish Res 204:156–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Russell, B. (Grouper & Wrasse Specialist Group) 2004. Cheilinus undulatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2004: e.T4592A11023949. Downloaded 11 November 2018
  59. Sadovy Y, Kulbicki M, Labrosse P, Letourneur Y, Lokani P, Donaldson TJ (2003) The humphead wrasse, Cheilinus undulatus: synopsis of a threatened and poorly known giant coral reef fish. Rev Fish Biol Fish 13:327–364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Stan Development Team (2018). RStan: the R interface to Stan. R package version 2.17.3.
  61. Taylor BM, Hamilton RJ, Almany GR, Choat JH (2018) The world’s largest parrotfish has slow growth and a complex reproductive ecology. Coral Reefs. Google Scholar
  62. Thompson CP, Skowronski JJ, Larsen SF, Betz A (1996) Autobiographical memory: remembering what and remembering when. L. Erlbaum Associates, MahwahGoogle Scholar
  63. Vincent ACJ, Sadovy de Mitcheson YJ, Fowler SL, Lieberman S (2014) The role of CITES in the conservation of marine fishes subject to international trade. Fish Fish 15:563–592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Weiant P, Aswani S (2006) Early effects of a community-based marine protected area on the food security of participating households. SPC Traditional Marine Resource Management and Knowledge Information Bulletin 19:16–30Google Scholar
  65. Weeks R, Russ GR, Alcala AC, White AT (2010) Effectiveness of marine protected areas in the Philippines for biodiversity conservation. Conserv Biol 24:531–540CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Westneat MW, Alfaro ME (2005) Phylogenetic relationships and evolutionary history of the reef fish family Labridae. Mol Phylogenet Evol 36:370–390CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Zilio MI, London S, Perillo GM, Piccolo MC (2013) The social cost of dredging: The Bahia Blanca Estuary case. Ocean Coast Manag 71:195–202CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard J. Hamilton
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Alec Hughes
    • 3
  • Christopher J. Brown
    • 4
  • Tingo Leve
    • 3
  • Warren Kama
    • 5
  1. 1.The Nature ConservancyAsia Pacific Resource CentreSouth BrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef StudiesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Wildlife Conservation SocietyMundaSolomon Islands
  4. 4.Australian Rivers Institute – Coast and Estuaries and School of Environment and Science170 Kessels Road, Griffith UniversityNathanAustralia
  5. 5.Roviana LagoonSolomon Islands

Personalised recommendations