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Evaluating the effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas as a fisheries management tool


Buxton, CD and Haddon, M and Barrett, NS and Gardner, C and Edgar, GJ, Evaluating the effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas as a fisheries management tool, FRDC, 1999/162 (2004) [Contract Report]



Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are being proclaimed around the world with the stated primary purposes of enhancing fisheries stocks and/or conserving marine biodiversity. In Australia, in response to a joint State/Commonwealth agreement to establish a National Representative System of MPAs (NRSMPA) to protect marine biodiversity, the focus is on their conservation role. However, fisheries enhancement is often suggested as an additional benefit of protection, potentially offsetting the cost of area closure in some cases. This study aimed to contribute to the debate on the positive and negative effects of the establishment of MPAs, documenting changes that have occurred in reserves following establishment, and particularly, attempting to understand more about their role as a fisheries management tool. It builds on a program initiated following the establishment of Tasmania's first 'no-take' MPAs a decade ago. Changes within the MPAs over the period indicated that fishing has had a substantial influence on the demographic structure of many species, particularly those targeted by fishers. The magnitude of change detected appeared to be dependant on the susceptibility of species to capture, the remoteness of protected locations and to the MPA configuration itself. Changes within the more remote Maria Island reserve (the largest area studied), relative to fished reference sites, included increases in the abundance of lobsters and certain fish species and increases in the mean size of rock lobsters (responses typical of protected areas studied elsewhere in the world), as well as a decrease in the abundance of prey species such as urchins and abalone. Not all species increased in size and/or abundance, and for several fish species there was no significant change. At Maria Island there was also a 30% decline in the abundance of common urchins within the reserve, which may be the first Tasmanian evidence of cascading ecosystem effects related to protection from fishing. Abalone numbers were also observed to decline sharply over the period sampled. This change was interesting in that one possible explanation was an inverse relationship between predators (lobsters) and prey (abalone). If shown to be correct this finding is likely to have significant consequences for integrated, ecosystem based management of these two species. Clearly the survey showed that MPAs, even of a relatively small size (Maria Island covers 7km of coastline), could effectively achieve conservation objectives, especially for exploited species that were resident or sedentary in nature. A study of small-scale movement patterns of fishes showed that with few exceptions fish species showed high fidelity to site. Animals were generally resighted <100 m from initial tagging site and with individuals remaining near the tagging site throughout the 1-year duration of study. Influences on distance moved attributable to the variables body length, sex, water temperature and time since tagging were insignificant compared to variation between individuals. Patterns of movement were also generally consistent at all three study sites. Home ranges of some species were found to be affected by the presence of macroalgae, with animals emigrating from artificially cleared patches. The sedentary nature of these small- to medium-sized reef fish species indicated that relatively small marine protected areas (1 km diameter) could provide adequate protection to these fishes but suggest limited 'spillover' benefits to fisheries in the form of emigrants to surrounding areas. The population structure of lobsters (J. edwardsii) within the Maria Island reserve after a decade of protection was substantially changed from levels prior to protection. Relative to adjacent fished areas, the abundance of females was 2.4 times greater and the abundance of legal sized females 16.8 times greater. For males these values were 4.1 and 18.6 greater respectively. The recovery of the lobster population in the Mari

Item Details

Item Type:Contract Report
Keywords:Marine Protected Areas, Fisheries management, marine reserves, effects of fishing, lobster, abalone
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Fisheries sciences
Research Field:Fisheries management
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Rehabilitation or conservation of marine environments
UTAS Author:Buxton, CD (Professor Colin Buxton)
UTAS Author:Haddon, M (Associate Professor Malcolm Haddon)
UTAS Author:Barrett, NS (Associate Professor Neville Barrett)
UTAS Author:Gardner, C (Professor Caleb Gardner)
UTAS Author:Edgar, GJ (Professor Graham Edgar)
ID Code:47685
Year Published:2004
Deposited By:TAFI - Marine Research Laboratory
Deposited On:2007-08-01
Last Modified:2012-06-26
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