Habitat loss is accelerating a global extinction crisis. Conservation requires understanding links between species and habitats. Emerging research is revealing important associations between vegetated coastal wetlands and marine megafauna, such as cetaceans, sea turtles, and sharks. But these links have not been reviewed and the importance of these globally declining habitats is undervalued. Here, we identify associations for 102 marine megafauna species that utilize these habitats, increasing the number of species with associations based on current InternationalUnion for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) species assessments by 59% to 174, accounting for over 13% of all marine megafauna. We conclude that coastal wetlands require greater protection to support marine megafauna, and present a simple, effective framework to improve the inclusion of habitat associations within species assessments.
New Zealand's marine and coastal environments are of significant ecological, economic, cultural and social value. Yet a multitude of threats, disjointed legislation, and considerable knowledge gaps continue to limit the country's ability to effectively manage its marine ecosystems and resources. As such, it is important to identify the key research priorities that can best support progress towards more relevant and informed decision-making. Here we present the results of the New Zealand Marine Science Horizon Scan, which identified the ten highest priority research questions for the future of marine science in New Zealand across nine themes: 1) fisheries and aquaculture, 2) biosecurity, 3) climate change, 4) marine reserves and protected areas, 5) ecosystems and biodiversity, 6) policy and decision-making, 7) marine guardianship, 8) coastal and ocean processes, and 9) other anthropogenic factors. These key research priorities can be used to complement ongoing marine science activities, develop new and important areas of research, encourage opportunities for collaboration, and improve transparency around research and decision-making. Not only will answering these questions bridge existing knowledge gaps in marine science, but they can also be used to design research programmes that make the greatest contributions to the future of marine conservation, policy, and management in New Zealand.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) remain central to the conservation of marine biodiversity, but enhancing their resilience under climate change require that organizations managing them are able to adapt. Social factors like institutions can affect organizational capacities to adapt to climate change. Yet our knowledge about how different institutional designs for protected areas affect management adaptive capacity is limited. We address this gap by comparing how two models of MPA governance - centralized and collaborative (co-management) - influence the adaptive capacities of public organizations managing MPAs in East Africa. Social network analysis is used to examine external relations of MPA organizations which are interpreted through the lens of social capital theory to explain the acquisition of information and knowledge that support adaptive capacity. We find differences in the ways focal MPA organizations in the centralized and co-managed MPA systems are connected to their external partners. In the centralized system, the focal MPA organization operates in a less connected network rich in opportunities to bridge disconnected groups that can be a source of novel and diverse information. Conversely, the focal MPA organization in the co-managed system operates in a dense network of interconnected organizations that are likely to have similar information, therefore providing redundant information benefits. The composition of partners around focal MPA organizations which determines information quality is not affected by MPA governance context. We conclude that institutional context affects the relational dimensions of adaptive capacity, by giving greater or fewer opportunities for the development of either bridging or bonding social capital.
As habitat mapping is crucially important for developing effective management and restoration plans, the aim of this work was to produce a census of available map resources at the European scale focusing on: a) key marine habitats; b) degraded habitats; c) human activities and pressures acting on degraded habitats, and d) the restoration potential of degraded habitats. Almost half of the 580 map records were derived from grey literature and web resources but contained no georeferenced files for download, thus limiting further use of the data. Biogeographical heterogeneity was observed and varied between the type and quality of information provided. This variability was mainly related to differences in research efforts and stakeholder focus. Habitat degradation was assessed in only 28% of the map records and was mostly carried out in a qualitative manner. Less than half of the map records included assessments on the recovery/restoration potential of the degraded habitats, with passive restoration by removal of human activities being the most commonly recommended measure. The current work has identified several gaps and challenges both in the thematic and geographic coverage of the available map resources, as well as in the approaches implemented for the harmonized assessment of habitat degradation. These should guide future mapping initiatives in order to more comprehensively support and advise the marine habitat restoration agenda for better meeting the objectives set in relevant policy documents and legislative acts in Europe.
Purpose of Review
We summarize recent progress on autonomous observations of ocean carbonate chemistry and the development of a network of sensors capable of observing carbonate processes at multiple temporal and spatial scales.
The development of versatile pH sensors suitable for both deployment on autonomous vehicles and in compact, fixed ecosystem observatories has been a major development in the field. The initial large-scale deployment of profiling floats equipped with these new pH sensors in the Southern Ocean has demonstrated the feasibility of a global autonomous open-ocean carbonate observing system.
Our developing network of autonomous carbonate observations is currently targeted at surface ocean CO2 fluxes and compact ecosystem observatories. New integration of developed sensors on gliders and surface vehicles will increase our coastal and regional observational capability. Most autonomous platforms observe a single carbonate parameter, which leaves us reliant on the use of empirical relationships to constrain the rest of the carbonate system. Sensors now in development promise the ability to observe multiple carbonate system parameters from a range of vehicles in the near future.
Despite frequent calls for Integrated Management (IM) of coastal and marine activities, there is no consensus on the ‘recipe’ for successful adoption and implementation, and there has been insufficient evaluation of successes and failures of IM to date. The primary rationale for IM is to overcome four major deficiencies of sector-based management: a) management of diverse activities by different agencies using different approaches, b) management generally focused on a subset of primarily ecological objectives that do not properly articulate or evaluate social, cultural, economic and institutional objectives, c) no mechanisms to evaluate or advise on trade-offs among objectives of activities in relation to objectives and d) no mechanisms to evaluate the cumulative effects of all managed activities. To help overcome this gap in knowledge, here we draw on our collective experiences working in Australia and Canada to develop and articulate a framework to help guide the practical implementation and evaluation of IM, which we define as: ‘An approach that links (integrates) planning, decision-making and management arrangements across sectors in a unified framework, to enable a more comprehensive view of sustainability and the consideration of cumulative effects and trade-offs.’
We argue that IM will be most easily and effectively achieved by linking and modifying existing sector-based plans in an overarching IM initiative that has nine key features: 1) Recognition of need for IM, 2) A shared vision by stakeholders and decision-makers for IM, 3) Appropriate legal and institutional frameworks for coordinated decision-making, 4) Sufficient and effective processes for stakeholder engagement and participation, 5) A common and comprehensive set of operational objectives, 6) Explicit consideration of trade-offs and cumulative impacts, 7) Flexibility to adapt to changing conditions, 8) Processes for ongoing review and refinement, and 9) Effective resourcing, capacity, leadership and tools. Drawing on these features we then articulate a process for the implementation and evaluation of IM that recognises five phases: i) Preconditions and drivers of change, ii) Intentional design and institutional rearrangement, iii) Enablers and disablers iv) An implemented IM process, and v) Review of IM performance and modification. Combination of the nine features of IM with the five phases in IM development provides a framework for implementation and a lens for evaluation of IM processes. We suggest that this framework provides a guide to the appropriate design of practical IM, which will assist in overcoming the current management deficiencies and improve the sustainability of marine resources in the face of change.
Growing human populations are driving the development of coastal infrastructuresuch as port facilities. Here, we used passive acoustic telemetry to examine the effects of a jetty and artificial light on the rates of predation of flatback turtle(Natator depressus) hatchlings as they disperse through nearshore waters. When released near a jetty, around 70% of the tagged hatchlings were predated before they could transit the nearshore, irrespective of the presence or absence of artificial light. Only 3 to 23% of hatchlings encountered predators at a second study site nearby where there was no jetty and a similar amount of nesting activity. Evidence for predation was provided by rapid tag detachment due to prey handling by a predator or the extensive movement of the tags within the receiver array suggesting that the tag (and hatchling) was inside the stomach of a predator. We found that 70% of the fish predators that consumed tags used the jetty as a refuge during the day and expanded their range along nearshore waters at night, predating on hatchlings in areas adjacent to the jetty with the highest nesting density. Sampling of potential predators including lutjanid reef fishes under the jetty revealed the presence of turtle hatchlings in their gut contents. By providing daytime refuges for predators, nearshore structures such as jetties have the potential to concentrate predators and they may pose a significant threat to populations of vulnerable species. Such effects must be taken into consideration when assessing the environmental impactsassociated with these structures.
Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) are characterized by prominent biological features susceptible to anthropogenic disturbances. Following international guidelines, the identification and protection of VMEs require a detailed documentation regarding both the community structure and the fishing footprintin the area. This combined information is lacking for the majority of the Mediterranean mesophotic rocky reefs that, similarly to deep-seabottoms, are known to host valuable animal forests.
A deep coralligenous site exploited by artisanal fishermen in the NW Mediterranean Sea is here used as a model to assess the vulnerability of animal forests at mesophotic depths and evaluate the sustainability of artisanal fishing practices, particularly lobster trammel net. The Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) footage is used to document the biodiversity and health status of the megabenthic communities, while discard data are employed to quantify the entanglement risk, discard rates of fragile species and threats to sea floor integrity.
A multidisciplinary approach is proposed for the assessment of the vulnerability criteria of an EU Special Area of Conservation, leading to specific managementmeasures, including the delineation of fishing restrictions.
We used high-resolution fisheries-dependent data and a quantitative modeling approach to examine resilience of a commercial reef fish fleet after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (DWH) emergency closures in 2010. Our results indicate that the fleet was largely resilient to the closures, although there were spatially-varying differences in attrition, and concomitant management changes and emergency payouts that likely influenced resilience. Five percent of previously active vessels exited the fleet after DWH (compared to the background annual attrition rate of ˜20%). The predicted probability of exiting after DWH was lower for vessels with a pre-closure history of high catch-per-unit-effort, low snapper revenue variability, or low grouper revenue. There was ˜80% overlap in pre- to post-DWH effort distribution, although vessels that exited concentrated effort in the north-central and eastern Gulf of Mexico. The Vessels of Opportunity program and other emergency compensation likely ameliorated some of the negative economic impactsfrom DWH, allowing more vessels to remain in the fleet than may have otherwise. Implementation of gear restrictions and individual fishing quotas leading up to DWH may have also ‘primed’ the fleet for resilience by removing marginal fishers. This work is novel in its use of high-resolution spatial data, coupled with trip logbooks, to construct quantitative models identifying drivers of fisher resilience after significant and sudden perturbations to fishery resources in the Gulf of Mexico. This work also highlights the need to better understand fisher response to disturbance for long-term fishery sustainability and management.
Specific risks to offshore oil and gas operations manifest in the Arctic and other harsh environments. Such extreme operating conditions can disrupt the offshore infrastructure and cause major accidents, posing a great challenge to operators. A thorough investigation of past incidents helps to learn lessons to ensure that a recurrence of serious accidents affecting workers and the environment can be prevented.
The analysis of past incidents is divided into two parts. First, we offer a statistical analysis of offshore incidents triggered by natural events in the Arctic and in similar harsh environments. The analysis, organised by location, cause, and type of damage, failure mechanisms, and consequences, is based on data from the World Offshore Accident Database (WOAD). Second, we analyse a selection of accidents that occurred in the recent past in ice-prone seas, with particular attention to potential deficiencies in safety measures, design requirements and design methodologies, operations planning and component reliability.
Based on the analysis, important lessons were identified which stress the need for further efforts to ensure the safety of workers and of assets and to get all actors involved in offshore operations engaged towards achieving a safer future for the exploitation of oil and gas resources.
- The relative availability of alternative organic matter sources directly influences trophic interactions within ecological communities. As differences in trophic ecology can alter the productivity of communities, understanding spatial variability in trophic structure, and the drivers of variability, is vital for implementing effective ecosystem‐based management.
- Bulk stable isotope analysis (δ13C and δ15N) and mass balance calculations were used to examine patterns in the contribution of organic matter derived from macroalgae to food webs supporting temperate reef fish communities in two contrasting coastal waterways on the South Island of New Zealand: Fiordland and the Marlborough Sounds. Ten fish species common to both regions were compared, with up to 40% less organic matter from macroalgae supporting omnivorous species in the Marlborough Sounds. The largest differences in trophic position were found in those species exploited by fisheries.
- Furthermore, stratified surveys of abundance and species biomass combined with trophic position data were used to calculate regional differences in the contribution of macroalgae to whole fish communities in terms of density of biomass. In Fiordland, over 77% of the biomass of exploited reef fishes was supported by macroalgae, compared with 31% in the Marlborough Sounds.
- Surveys of macroalgal density and species composition in the two regions indicated that regional differences in trophodynamics may be explained by a lack of macroalgal inputs to the food web in the Marlborough Sounds.
- The findings demonstrate large regional differences in the incorporation of benthic and pelagic sources of organic matter to food webs supporting reef fish communities, highlighting the need for ecosystem‐based approaches to management to recognize spatial variability in primary production supporting coastal food webs.
Emerging conservation efforts for the world’s large predators may, if successful, restore natural predator–prey interactions. Marine reserves, where large predators tend to be relatively common, offer an experimental manipulation to investigate interactions between large-bodied marine predators and their prey. We hypothesized that southern stingrays—large, long-lived and highly interactive mesopredators—would invest in anti-predator behavior in marine reserves where predatory large sharks, the primary predator of stingrays, are more abundant. Specifically, we predicted southern stingrays in marine reserves would reduce the use of deep forereef habitats in the favor of shallow flats where the risk of shark encounters is lower. Baited remote underwater video was used to survey stingrays and reef sharks in flats and forereef habitats of two reserves and two fished sites in Belize. The interaction between “protection status” and “habitat” was the most important factor determining stingray presence. As predicted, southern stingrays spent more time interacting with baited remote underwater videos in the safer flats habitats, were more likely to have predator-inflicted damage inside reserves, and were less abundant in marine reserves but only in the forereef habitat. These results are consistent with a predation-sensitive habitat shift rather than southern stingray populations being reduced by direct predation from reef sharks. Our study provides evidence that roving predators can induce pronounced habitat shifts in prey that rely on crypsis and refuging, rather than active escape, in high-visibility, heterogeneous marine habitats. Given documented impacts of stingrays on benthic communities it is possible restoration of reef shark populations with reserves could induce reef ecosystem changes through behavior-mediated trophic cascades.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are a critical defense against biodiversity loss in the world's oceans, but to realize near‐term conservation benefits, they must be established where major threats to biodiversity occur and can be mitigated. We quantified the degree to which MPA establishment has targeted stoppable threats (i.e., threats that can be abated through effectively managed MPAs alone) by combining spatially explicit marine biodiversity threat data in 2008 and 2013 and information on the location and potential of MPAs to halt threats. We calculated an impact metric to determine whether countries are protecting proportionally more high‐ or low‐threat ecoregions and compared observed values with random protected‐area allocation. We found that protection covered <2% of ecoregions in national waters with high levels of abatable threat in 2013, which is ∼59% less protection in high‐threat areas than if MPAs had been placed randomly. Relatively low‐threat ecoregions had 6.3 times more strict protection (International Union for Conservation of Nature categories I–II) than high‐threat ecoregions. Thirty‐one ecoregions had high levels of stoppable threat but very low protection, which presents opportunities for MPAs to yield more significant near‐term conservation benefits. The extent of the global MPA estate has increased, but the establishment of MPAs where they can reduce threats that are driving biodiversity loss is now urgently needed.
Climate and environmental conditions are determinant for coral distribution and their very existence. When changes in such conditions occur, their effects on distribution can be predicted through species distribution models, anticipating suitable habitats for the subsistence of species. Mussismilia harttii is one of the most endangered Brazilian endemic reef-building corals, and in increasing risk of extinction. Herein, species distribution models were used to determine the present and future potential habitats for M. harttii. Estimations were made through the maximum entropy approach, predicting suitable habitat losses and gains by the end of the 21st century. For this purpose, species records published in the last 20 years and current and future environmental variables were correlated. The best models were chosen according to the Akaike information criterion (AIC) and evaluated through the partial ROC (AUCratio), a new approach which uses independent occurrence data. Both approaches showed that the models performed satisfactorily in predicting potential habitat areas for the species. Future projections were made using the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenarios for 2100, with different levels of greenhouse gas emission. Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) were used to model the Future Potential Habitat (FPH) of M. harttii in two different scenarios: stabilization of emissions (RCP 4.5) and increase of emissions (RCP 8.5). According to the results, shallow waters to the south of the study area concentrate most of the current potential habitats for the species. However, in future scenarios, there was a loss of suitable areas in relation to the Current Potential Habitat (RCP 4.5 46% and RCP 8.5 59%), whereas there is a southward shift of the suitable areas. In all scenarios of FPH, the temperature was the variable with the greatest contribution to the models (> 35%), followed by the current velocity (> 33%) and bathymetry (>29%). In contrast, there is an increase of deep (50–75 m) suitable areas FPH scenarios, mainly in the southern portion of its distribution, at Abrolhos Bank (off Espirito Santo State). These deeper sites might serve as refugia for the species in global warming scenarios. Coral communities at such depths would be less susceptible to impacts of climate change on temperature and salinity. However, the deep sea is not free from human impacts and measures to protect deeper ecosystems should be prioritized in environmental policies for Brazilian marine conservation, especially the Abrolhos Bank, due to its importance for M. harttii.
Previous reconstructions of marine fishing fleets have aggregated data without regard to the artisanal and industrial sectors. Engine power has often been estimated from subsets of the developed world, leading to inflated results. We disaggregated data into three sectors, artisanal (unpowered/powered) and industrial, and reconstructed the evolution of the fleet and its fishing effort. We found that the global fishing fleet doubled between 1950 and 2015—from 1.7 to 3.7 million vessels. This has been driven by substantial expansion of the motorized fleet, particularly, of the powered-artisanal fleet. By 2015, 68% of the global fishing fleet was motorized. Although the global fleet is dominated by small powered vessels under 50 kW, they contribute only 27% of the global engine power, which has increased from 25 to 145 GW (combined powered-artisanal and industrial fleets). Alongside an expansion of the fleets, the effective catch per unit of effort (CPUE) has consistently decreased since 1950, showing the increasing pressure of fisheries on ocean resources. The effective CPUE of most countries in 2015 was a fifth of its 1950s value, which was compared with a global decline in abundance. There are signs, however, of stabilization and more effective management in recent years, with a reduction in fleet sizes in developed countries. Based on historical patterns and allowing for the slowing rate of expansion, 1 million more motorized vessels could join the global fleet by midcentury as developing countries continue to transition away from subsistence fisheries, challenging sustainable use of fisheries' resources.
Current international commitments on ocean protection targets include protecting 10% of the ocean through marine protected areas (MPAs) until 2020, while also complying with efficiency and equity requirements. This has led to a race to designate large MPAs, but despite the valid marine conservation efforts, conferring adequate protection is still at risk. While fully protected areas are considered the most efficient tools to effectively protect the integrity of ecosystems, most existing or proposed MPAs are far from being fully or strongly protected. Portugal, with the 20th largest EEZ of the world is well positioned to lead ocean conservation efforts and provides a suitable case study for analysis of protection conferred by existing MPAs. To this end, Portuguese MPAs were assessed according to different types of classification systems and it was found that most MPAs confer little or no additional protection compared to outside areas. The results differ according to the classification system used, revealing the importance of finding a common system for evaluating progress in ocean conservation. The relevance of adequately labelling and understanding the levels of protection in place is demonstrated. Not differentiating the type of protection conferred by MPA regulations, while rushing towards international targets, may give a potentially false impression to society.
Coastal nations and islands have featured a participatory turn this century directed to resolving conflicts in multi-use/user marine spaces. Yet, few conceptual and empirical studies focus on participation as an institutional form to engage with the pressures of diverse and contesting uses and user interests in marine environments. These spaces are volatile arenas of power and politics, challenging available regulatory, governance and managerial models. The paper first reviews understandings of the nature of the relational field of diversity-contestation-participation in the international literature and second draws on empirical findings from five case studies of marine participatory process configurations in contemporary Aotearoa New Zealand. The nation is a unique ecological, political, social, cultural and economic setting. Maori (the indigenous people) have developed holistic intergenerational resource nurturing principles and practices (Vision Matauranga (VM)) that are actively shaping marine futures. This momentum has markedly altered the nature and terms of engagement of participation in Aotearoa New Zealand's shallow marine regulatory context. The country is thus an ideal setting to examine the rise of quasi-independent Participatory initiatives, contextualise and examine their diversity, contestation, participation interactions, confront relational and co-production aspects of agency that are an integral part of real-time participatory processes, and to reflect on van Kerkhoff and Lebel's (2015) contention that different possible futures hang on people asking new questions and being brave enough to experiment with process, collaboration, and their own conceptualisations and knowledges'.
Methylmercury (CH3Hg) toxicity causes irreversible inhibition of selenium (Se)-dependent enzymes, including those that are required to prevent and reverse oxidative damage in the brain. Fish consumption provides numerous essential nutrients required for optimal health, but is also associated with CH3Hg exposure risks, especially during fetal development. Therefore, it is necessary to assess the amounts of both elements in seafood to evaluate relative risks or benefits. Consumption of ocean fish containing Se in molar excess of CH3Hg will prevent interruption of selenoenzyme activities, thereby alleviating Hg-exposure risks. Because dietary Se is a pivotal determinant of CH3Hg’s effects, the Selenium Health Benefit Value (HBV) criterion was developed to predict risks or benefits as a result of seafood consumption. A negative HBV indicates Hg is present in molar excess of Se and may impair Se availability while a positive HBV indicates consumption will improve the Se status of the consumer, thus negating risks of Hg toxicity.
This study examined the Hg and Se contents of varieties of seafood to establish those with positive HBV’s offering benefits and those having negative HBVs indicating potential consumption risks.
The Hg and Se molar concentrations in samples of meat from pilot whale, mako shark, thresher shark, swordfish, bigeye tuna, and skipjack tuna were used to determine their HBV’s in relation to body weight.
The HBVs of pilot whale, mako shark, and swordfish were typically negative and inversely related to body weight, indicating their consumption may impair Se availability. However, the HBV’s of thresher shark, bigeye tuna, and skipjack tuna were uniformly positive regardless of body weights, indicating their consumption counteracts Hg-dependent risks of selenoenzyme impairment.
The HBV criterion provides a reliable basis for differentiating seafoods whose intake should be limited during pregnancy from those that should be consumed to obtain health benefits.
Health Benefit Value
Parts per million
Cultivating more harmonious ways of interacting with top predators is a major challenge in sustainably managing and developing fisheries. In-depth, interdisciplinary case studies represent important tools for highlighting emergent properties in complex human-predator relationships. In this study we integrate original social research with detailed secondary historic and natural-scientific information on a long-standing case of human-wildlife conflict: the relationship between fur seals and fisheries in Tasmania. Stakeholders were targeted and surveyed via anonymous questionnaire about their experiences and perceptions of seal-fishery interactions and seals in the ecosystem. The most frequently cited outcomes of interactions for both commercial and recreational fishers were damaged gear, lost catch, and damaged catch. Most fishers indicated that they believed population-level controlled culling or targeted removal of problem individuals would be the most effective strategies to manage and reduce interactions. In contrast, the general public and resource/environmental managers indicated strong preferences for non-lethal forms of management, with culling the lowest ranked strategy in terms of perceived effectiveness. Perceptions of ongoing rapid population increase evident in fishing sub-groups contrast with available seal population data. Such discrepancy suggests that reported increasing seal-fishery interactions may be more reflective of behavioural change, with seals becoming habituated to certain fishing activities. Areas of promise identified for future research and management focus on: technical mitigation to minimise direct interactions, building tolerance in fishing communities, and targeted ecological research to disentangle the effects of pinniped abundance, distribution (including seasonal population flux between breeding regions), and habituation on interactions. Documenting the contemporary status of this relationship is an integral step in managing such conflicts.
The Philippines has more than 1600 locally managed marine protected areas (MPAs), the most in the world. However, their effectiveness for coral reef fisheries management is often questionable because most of these MPAs are small and ineffectively managed. In this study, we assessed the fish biomass of commercially important coral reef fishes (e.g. surgeonfish (family Acanthuridae), parrotfish (subfamily Scarinae), snapper (family Lutjanidae), grouper (subfamily Epinephelinae), sweetlips (family Haemulidae), goatfish (Mullidae) and emperor (family Lethrinidae)) in 57 locally managed MPAs in the Philippines. We used the fish biomass level at the nationally managed, large (332.0 km2), remote, old and well enforced (i.e. strictly protected for >20 years) Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park (TRNMP) as a proxy for “unfished” ecosystems (Bo). We considered fish biomass levels between 25 and 50% of Bo as biomass within the maximum sustainable yield for multi-species coral reef fisheries (BMMSY) (McClanahan et al., 2014). Results showed that fish biomass levels in 7%, 25% and 68% of the surveyed MPAs were “above BMMSY”, “within BMMSY” and “below BMMSY”, respectively. None of the reefs outside MPAs was “above BMMSY”. About 86% were “below BMMSY” and the rest of the 14% of the sites outside MPAs were “within BMMSY” (14%). The mean (±S.E.) fish biomass levels on reefs inside and outside MPAs were only about 20.4 ± 2.2% and 10.9 ± 1.3%, respectively, of the TRNMP level. Neither size nor age of MPAs was significantly associated with fish biomass. Overall, our study showed that the current locally managed MPAs are not effective enough for coral reef fisheries management but, nonetheless, better than having no MPA at all.