Sigi interviewed 167 local fishers in Kenya and Tanzania about their fishing practices and their local ecological knowledge (LEK) of the ecosystems where they fished. She found that sea urchin predators are indeed fished by local small-scale fishers. However, most of these fish species were not actively targeted and were not popular as food.  So despite not being desirable, they were being removed from the sea and potentially indirectly causing degradation of marine foodwebs – bad news all round!  To add to the problem, local suggestions to manage the problem were generally addressing the symptoms (urchins) rather than the root causes (overfishing of urchin predators).

Based on these results, Sigi and her co-authors suggest management alternatives such as education of local stakeholders on fishing effects and food web complexity and using selective gear to avoid bycatch of urchin predators.

As well as getting to the bottom of an interesting ecological problem, Sigi has also made an important contribution to sustainable marine ecosystem management.

For all the details, read the paper at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2015.01.010