Temperate marine protected area provides recruitment subsidies to local fisheries
The utility of marine protected areas (MPAs) as a means of protecting exploited species and conserving biodiversity within MPA boundaries is supported by strong empirical evidence. However, the potential contribution of MPAs to fished populations beyond their boundaries is still highly controversial; empirical measures are scarce and modelling studies have produced a range of predictions, including both positive and negative effects. Using a combination of genetic parentage and relatedness analysis, we measured larval subsidies to local fisheries replenishment for Australasian snapper (Chrysophrys auratus: Sparidae) from a small (5.2 km2), well-established, temperate, coastal MPA in northern New Zealand. Adult snapper within the MPA contributed an estimated 10.6% (95% CI: 5.5–18.1%) of newly settled juveniles to surrounding areas (approx. 400 km2), with no decreasing trend in contributions up to 40 km away. Biophysical modelling of larval dispersal matched experimental data, showing larvae produced inside the MPA dispersed over a comparable distance. These results demonstrate that temperate MPAs have the potential to provide recruitment subsidies at magnitudes and spatial scales relevant to fisheries management. The validated biophysical model provides a cost-efficient opportunity to generalize these findings to other locations and climate conditions, and potentially informs the design of MPA networks for enhancing fisheries management.
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