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Global conservation outcomes depend on marine protected areas with five key features

Citation

Edgar, GJ and Stuart-Smith, RD and Willis, TJ and Kininmonth, SJ and Baker, SC and Banks, S and Barrett, NS and Becerro, MA and Bernard, ATF and Berkhout, J and Buxton, CD and Campbell, SJ and Cooper, AT and Davey, M and Edgar, SC and Forsterra, G and Galvan, DE and Irigoyen, AJ and Kushner, DJ and Moura, R and Parnell, PE and Shears, NT and Soler, G and Strain, EMA and Thomson, RJ, Global conservation outcomes depend on marine protected areas with five key features, Nature, 506, (7487) pp. 216-220. ISSN 0028-0836 (2014) [Refereed Article]


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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited.

DOI: doi:10.1038/nature13022

Abstract

In line with global targets agreed under the Convention on Biological Diversity, the number of marine protected areas (MPAs) is increasing rapidly, yet socio-economic benefits generated by MPAs remain difficult to predict and under debate. MPAs often fail to reach their full potential as a consequence of factors such as illegal harvesting, regulations that legally allow detrimental harvesting, or emigration of animals outside boundaries because of continuous habitat or inadequate size of reserve. Here we show that the conservation benefits of 87 MPAs investigated worldwide increase exponentially with the accumulation of five key features: no take, well enforced, old (>10 years), large (>100km2), and isolated by deep water or sand. Using effective MPAs with four or five key features as an unfished standard, comparisons of underwater survey data from effective MPAs with predictions based on survey data from fished coasts indicate that total fish biomass has declined about two-thirds from historical baselines as a result of fishing. Effective MPAs also had twice as many large (>250mm total length) fish species per transect, five times more large fish biomass, and fourteen times more shark biomass than fished areas. Most (59%) of the MPAs studied had only one or two key features and were not ecologically distinguishable from fished sites. Our results show that global conservation targets based on area alone will not optimize protection of marine biodiversity. More emphasis is needed on better MPA design, durable management and compliance to ensure that MPAs achieve their desired conservation value.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl. Marine Ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environment
Objective Group:Ecosystem Assessment and Management
Objective Field:Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments
Author:Edgar, GJ (Professor Graham Edgar)
Author:Stuart-Smith, RD (Dr Rick Stuart-Smith)
Author:Kininmonth, SJ (Dr Stuart Kininmonth)
Author:Baker, SC (Dr Sue Baker)
Author:Barrett, NS (Dr Neville Barrett)
Author:Berkhout, J (Mr Just Berkhout)
Author:Buxton, CD (Professor Colin Buxton)
Author:Cooper, AT (Miss Antonia Cooper)
Author:Davey, M (Dr Marlene Davey)
Author:Soler, G (Mr German Soler)
Author:Thomson, RJ (Dr Russell Thomson)
ID Code:89277
Year Published:2014
Web of Science® Times Cited:294
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2014-02-27
Last Modified:2017-11-03
Downloads:650 View Download Statistics

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