Kahawai Phylogeny and Phylogenetics: A Genetic Investigation into Commercial and Recreational Fisheries Management and Practice
Globally, commercially exploited fish species are coming under more and more pressure as the population of humans grow. Protein from the sea has traditionally been available to coastal communities throughout history. In modern times however, traditional artisanal fisheries have been replaced by commercial fishing industries. It is estimated by some authorities that these modern fisheries have led to decreases in pre-exploitation biomass of desirable species of up to 90%. As desirable species decline, secondary species become more valuable and subject to exploitation. An issue with this exploitation is that management decisions of fish stocks are often based on political or commercial concerns rather than sound science focussed on preserving stocks, and ultimately, fishing industries. To investigate phylogenetic and phylogeographic relationships of fish, kahawai (Arripis trutta) was used as a proxy species. A. trutta is one of only four members of the genus Arripis, which in turn is the sole member of the family Arripidae. It was found that a single, highly connected population of A. trutta inhabit New Zealand waters, and approximately 15 migrants per generation make the journey between New Zealand and Australia, genetically linking these populations. A phylogeny of A. trutta was resolved using mitochondrial DNA, and while COX1 data supported the hypothesis that A. trutta forms a monophyletic clade within the Stromateoids (medusa fish, squaretails and drift fish) and the Scombrids (tuna, mackerel and their allies) suggesting a common ancestor, other data collected during the investigation does not support this hypothesis.