Fisheries management in the face of uncertainty: Designing time-area closures that are effective under multiple spatial patterns of fishing effort displacement in an estuarine gill net fishery
A commonly cited reason for the failure of time-area closures to achieve fisheries management goals is the displacement of fishing effort from inside the closure into the surrounding area still open to fishing. Designing time-area closures that are predicted to achieve management goals under multiple spatial patterns of effort redistribution will increase chances of success. Using data from an estuarine gill net fishery, we tested if there are time-area closures predicted to reduce bycatch of two protected species groups while maintaining target catch under four simulated effort redistribution patterns. We found that the pattern of effort redistribution had a substantial impact on the amount of predicted bycatch in each closure scenario. Multiple closures were predicted to reduce bycatch of these species under all four simulations of effort redistribution. However, some combinations of closure and effort redistribution pattern resulted in estimated bycatch being higher than without a closure. We did not find any time-area closures that resulted in a predicted reduction in bycatch while maintaining target catch at original levels. We demonstrate a simple way for fisheries managers to account for the uncertainty in fishers' behavior by designing time-area closures that are predicted to reduce bycatch under multiple potential patterns of spatial redistribution of fishing effort.
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