In 2007, due to growing concerns of declines in nearshore fisheries in Hawai'i, a ban on gillnets was implemented in designated areas around the island of O'ahu in the main Hawaiian Islands. Utilizing a 17 year time-series of juvenile fish abundance beginning prior to the implementation of the gillnet ban, we examined the effects of the ban on the abundance of juveniles of soft-bottom associated fish species. Using a Before-After-Control-Impact (BACI) sampling design, we compared the abundance of targeted fishery species in a bay where gillnet fishing was banned (Kailua, O'ahu), and an adjacent bay where fishing is still permitted (Waimānalo, O'ahu). Our results show that when multiple juvenile fish species were combined, abundance declined over time in both locations, but the pattern varied for each of the four species groups examined. Bonefishes were the only species group with a significant BACI effect, with higher abundance in Kailua in the period after the gillnet ban. This study addressed a need for scientific assessment of a fisheries regulation that is rarely possible due to lack of quality data before enactment of such restrictions. Thus, we developed a baseline status of juveniles of an important fishery species, and found effects of a fishery management regulation in Hawai'i.
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