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In 1991 the population size of the coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) on Grande Comore Island, Western Indian Ocean, was estimated at 230-650 individuals, based on counts of individually recognized fish in an 8-km stretch of coastline. This census area represents about 9% of the total suitable habitat at the island. Counts in the same area in 1994 indicated a reduction of sighted coelacanths of about 30%. Additional surveys in 1995 suggested a total coelacanth population of less than 300 individuals. The local artisanal fishery is probably responsible for the observed decline. The survival of the coelacanth seems to be severely threatened if fishing pressure is not reduced. Conservation measures should focus on providing local fishermen with fishing alternatives.
Conservation Biology © 1998 Wiley