Coral reefs are among the most highly productive and complex communities. Their exceptionally high primary productivity (Odum, 1971) is concurrent with the high secondary productivity in terms of fish (Brock, 1954; Randall, 1963; Talbot and Goldman, 1972; McCain and Peck, 1973). The high fish productivity on coral reefs forms the basis for important fisheries in many tropical countries (Stevenson and Marshall, 1974). In Sabah, reef fisheries were estimated to contribute 30% of the total fisheries production (Langham and Mathias, 1977). In the Philippines, Carpenter (1977) estimated that reef fisheries contribute at least 15% of the total fisheries production.
The muro-ami and kayakas Philippine reef fisheries are excellent examples of how the high secondary productivity of coral reefs can be transformed into substantial fisheries production. Although very effective in exploring the difficult-to-harvest reef fishes, these fishing methods are destructive to the habitat. This habitat debilitation is considered detrimental to the long term efficiency of reef fisheries. However, simple modifications can be made on both gears to eliminate their habitat debilitation while retaining their efficiency.
This paper reviews the muro-ami and kayakas fisheries in regard to their production capabilities and effects on the habitat. Some suggestions are made for increasing the long-term efficiency of the gears.