The oceans play a key role in global issues such as climate change, food security, and human health. Given their vast dimensions and internal complexity, efficient monitoring and predicting of the planet’s ocean must be a collaborative effort of both regional and global scale. A first and foremost requirement for such collaborative ocean observing is the need to follow well-defined and reproducible methods across activities: from strategies for structuring observing systems, sensor deployment and usage, and the generation of data and information products, to ethical and governance aspects when executing ocean observing. To meet the urgent, planet-wide challenges we face, methods across all aspects of ocean observing should be broadly adopted by the ocean community and, where appropriate, should evolve into “Ocean Best Practices.” While many groups have created best practices, they are scattered across the Web or buried in local repositories and many have yet to be digitized. To reduce this fragmentation, we introduce a new open access, permanent, digital repository of best practices documentation (oceanbestpractices.org) that is part of the Ocean Best Practices System (OBPS). The new OBPS provides an opportunity space for the centralized and coordinated improvement of ocean observing methods. The OBPS repository employs user-friendly software to significantly improve discovery and access to methods. The software includes advanced semantic technologies for search capabilities to enhance repository operations. In addition to the repository, the OBPS also includes a peer reviewed journal research topic, a forum for community discussion and a training activity for use of best practices. Together, these components serve to realize a core objective of the OBPS, which is to enable the ocean community to create superior methods for every activity in ocean observing from research to operations to applications that are agreed upon and broadly adopted across communities. Using selected ocean observing examples, we show how the OBPS supports this objective. This paper lays out a future vision of ocean best practices and how OBPS will contribute to improving ocean observing in the decade to come.
The following titles are freely-available, or include a link to a preprint or postprint.
Estimates of coral reef ecosystem calcification (Gnet) and productivity (Pnet) provide insight into coral community health and functionality in response to short- and long-term stressors such as ocean warming and acidification. Here, we investigate spatial variability in calcification and organic production at One Tree Island (OTI) and compare our new observations to sporadic metabolic rates reported over the previous 50 years on the same reef flat. Gnet and Pnet estimates at the nearshore site were 50% and 166% lower than an offshore site with a shift in organic production from net productive to net respiratory. Contrary to expectations, calcification rates in 2017 (145.7 ± 20.2 mmol m-2 d-1) were comparable to the 1970s estimate (125.0 ± 12.5 mmol m-2d-1) and 400% greater than similar observations in 2014. Our results indicate only weak associations between Gnet and aragonite (Ωar). A local increase in coral cover from 18% in 2014 to 31% in 2017 was the likely driver of increased calcification. A steeper TA–DIC slope in 2017 demonstrates a greater control of calcification on seawater carbonate chemistry than prior years. Overall, these results highlight the importance of site selection and replication when comparing metabolic datasets, and demonstrate major short-term variability in metabolic rates. The predictive capabilities of ecosystem metabolism studies may be constrained by using the available short-term datasets to represent long-term calcification trends.
The growth of marine aquaculture over the 21st century is a promising venture for food security because of its potential to fulfill the seafood deficit in the future. However, to maximize the use of marine space and its resources, the spatial planning of marine aquaculture needs to consider the regimes of climate variability in the oceanic environment, which are characterized by large-amplitude interannual to decadal fluctuations. It is common to see aquaculture spatial planning schemes that do not take variability into consideration. This assumption may be critical for management and for the expansion of marine aquaculture, because projects require investments of capital and need to be profitable to establish and thrive. We analyze the effect of climate variability on the profitability of hypothetical mussel aquaculture systems in the Southern California Bight. Using historical environmental data from 1981 to 2008, we combine mussel production and economics models at different sites along the coast to estimate the Net Present Value as an economic indicator of profitability. We find that productivity of the farms exhibits a strong coherent behavior with marketed decadal fluctuations that are connected to climate of the North Pacific Basin, in particular linked to the phases of the North Pacific Gyre Oscillation (NPGO). This decadal variability has a strong impact on profitability both temporally and spatially, and emerges because of the mussels’ dependence on multiple oceanic environmental variables. Depending on the trend of the decadal regimes in mussel productivity and the location of the farms, these climate fluctuations will affect cost recovery horizon and profitability for a given farm. These results suggest that climate variability should be taken into consideration by managers and investors on decision making to maximize profitability.
Based on fisheries landings data I propose the size-base index (community level) Mean Size of the Landing Catch (MSL). The MSL index was estimated based on high taxonomic resolution data available from auctions (species level) and demographic data acquired during the auction, namely species landed by “size-box” categories, which is assessed mandatorily in all EU members state for fisheries quality and statistic proposes. The MSL was calculated from the average inferred size-box categories of a species weighted by their annual catch. The use of MSL allows determining inter-annual changes in the size of the catch when weighted data is available from the fishery. Using the Portuguese fisheries landing data as an example, the MSL revealed that the landing yield of large fish linearly declined over time while the catch of small fishes increased (i.e., survivors to old age was reduced by fishing). The MSL can be easily used to assess trends in marine exploited commercial communities (community rather than population level) and is fully applicable with any species-size data source (e.g., scientific surveys, visual census data). The MSL can also be applied as a key indicator within the new ecosystem-based Marine Policy Framework Strategy (ecosystem approach to fisheries), which required the use of size-based indicators for the assessment of fisheries trends in exploited marine communities.
Seasonal fisheries emerge due to a variety of mechanisms: ontogenetic shifts of fish life stages, regulatory initiatives (e. g., fishing seasons) and/or biomass dynamics where there can be a strong seasonal reduction in stock biomass as fisheries harvest a single or double recruiting cohorts each year. The latter mechanism involves targeting species with biological traits including fast growth, high natural mortality and short lifespans; these fisheries have been expanding rapidly over the last 40 years, gaining social and economic importance. In this paper, we underscore the biological and economic dynamics of these fisheries by developing an intraseasonal bioeconomic model to examine the profitability under two situations: open-access and limited entry. We also incorporate the opportunity cost—the earnings that would result from pursuing other lines of work—in our modeling framework. We show that under limited entry situation, profitability is maximized over a given season—when income just balances operating cost per effort. Under open-access, however, net profit per vessel is driven down until it equals the opportunity cost. Biologically, our approach suggests that higher income from alternatives to fishing leads to less biomass depletion than would occur if there were no alternative income sources. To conclude, we discuss several traditional regulatory options and their effects on the distribution of fishing effort and season length.
The oceans take up over 1 million tons of anthropogenic CO2 per hour, increasing dissolved pCO2 and decreasing seawater pH in a process called ocean acidification (OA). At the same time greenhouse warming of the surface ocean results in enhanced stratification and shoaling of upper mixed layers, exposing photosynthetic organisms dwelling there to increased visible and UV radiation as well as to a decreased nutrient supply. In addition, ocean warming and anthropogenic eutrophication reduce the concentration of dissolved O2 in seawater, contributing to the spread of hypoxic zones. All of these global changes interact to affect marine primary producers. Such interactions have been documented, but to a much smaller extent compared to the responses to each single driver. The combined effects could be synergistic, neutral, or antagonistic depending on species or the physiological processes involved as well as experimental setups. For most calcifying algae, the combined impacts of acidification, solar UV, and/or elevated temperature clearly reduce their calcification; for diatoms, elevated CO2 and light levels interact to enhance their growth at low levels of sunlight but inhibit it at high levels. For most photosynthetic nitrogen fixers (diazotrophs), acidification associated with elevated CO2may enhance their N2 fixation activity, but interactions with other environmental variables such as trace metal availability may neutralize or even reverse these effects. Macroalgae, on the other hand, either as juveniles or adults, appear to benefit from elevated CO2 with enhanced growth rates and tolerance to lowered pH. There has been little documentation of deoxygenation effects on primary producers, although theoretically elevated CO2and decreased O2 concentrations could selectively enhance carboxylation over oxygenation catalyzed by ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase and thereby benefit autotrophs. Overall, most ocean-based global change biology studies have used single and/or double stressors in laboratory tests. This overview examines the combined effects of OA with other features such as warming, solar UV radiation, and deoxygenation, focusing on primary producers.
Sustained ocean observations provide an essential input to ocean scientific research. They also support a wide range of societal and economic benefits related to safety; operational efficiency; and regulation of activities around, on, in, and under seas and the ocean. The ocean economy is large and diverse, accounting for around US$1.5 trillion of global gross value-added economic activity. This is projected to more than double by 2030. Delivering this growth in economic activity is dependent on ocean observations. This review paper summarizes the projected changes in the scale and scope of the ocean economy and the role that observations, measurements, and forecasts play in supporting the safe and effective use of the ocean and ocean resources, at the same time as protecting the environment. It also provides an overview of key future work being planned to develop a better understanding of the present and likely future ocean economy and the role and value of ocean observations in its sustainable realization.
Long-term measurements are imperative to detect, understand, and predict changes in coastal biological communities, but can be both costly and difficult to implement. Here, we compare measurement methods used to document community structure and assess changes in marine systems, and explore potential applications in citizen science. The use of photographs for species identifications and monitoring has become a popular and useful data collection tool, but its use requires evaluation of its effectiveness in comparison to data collected from live examinations. We used settlement panels in San Francisco Bay, a well-studied and vital coastal ecosystem, to compare standardized measures of the invertebrate fouling community through examination of live organisms in the field and via photographs. Overall, our study found that live measurements were more accurate and better represented these marine communities, having higher richness, and diversity measurements than photographic measurements. However, photographic analyses accurately captured the relative abundances of some species and functional groups. We suggest that highly recognizable target taxa or broad scale comparisons of functional group composition are easily tracked through photographs and offer the best potential for research conducted by citizen scientists.
Spatial fragmentation is a near-ubiquitous characteristic of marine canopies. Biophysical interactions with fragmented canopies are multi-faceted and have many significant implications at multiple scales. The aims of this paper are to review research on biophysical interactions in fragmented marine canopies, identify current gaps in knowledge and understanding, and propose ways forward. The review starts at the patch/gap scale and focuses initially on hydrodynamic interactions. It then considers the consequences of these interactions for particulate and dissolved material, and distributions of canopy-associated organisms. Finally, it addresses issues of upscaling to landscape-scale and ways in which this research can be applied to marine landscape management. Work on a broad range of canopy types is considered, including micro-algal biofilms and turf algae; macro-algae, seagrasses and coral reefs; saltmarsh vegetation and mangroves. Although the focus is on marine canopies, insights from studies of fragmented canopies in other contexts are drawn on where relevant. These include freshwater environments and terrestrial forests, grasslands, crop canopies, and urban areas. Specific areas requiring greater attention are highlighted. As a result of this meta-analysis, the following recommendations are made for further research. A lack of basic data is identified across all canopy types regarding the formation, fate and spatial and temporal characteristics of canopy patches, gaps, and spatial structure. Studies of hydrodynamics with fragmented canopies would benefit from shifting focus toward more non-uniform, realistic configurations, while ecological research in this area would benefit from a move toward configurations that are more controlled and tractable for quantitative modeling. More comparative studies across canopy types would enable understanding of their biophysical interactions and their consequences to be more fully tested and developed. A greater incorporation of chemical aspects of canopy systems into work that has hitherto focused on biophysical interactions would also be pertinent. Upscaling of patch and gap-scale phenomena to landscape-scale is identified as a crucial topic, since it is at the latter scale that management efforts are most readily carried out. Overall, an approach that balances hydrodynamics, marine canopy ecology, spatial analysis of landscapes, biogeochemistry, and socio-environmental interactions is recommended.
Assessment of environmental literacy and ocean literacy focus on increasing knowledge and awareness. The goal of ocean literacy initiatives is ultimately to enable behavior change (whereby citizens take direct and sustainable action) to achieve sustainable solutions to marine environment issues. The application of social and behavioral research methods provides powerful tools for assessing if ocean literacy initiatives are effective at increasing participant's knowledge and awareness of an issue, its causes and consequences and behaviors or actions required to enable sustainable solutions. Social and behavioral research methods also provide a means of assessing changes in attitude, a key predictor of behavior change, and ultimately a means of assessing changes in a participants intended and reported behaviors. We present a framework to integrate social and behavioral research methods within assessment of the effectiveness of ocean literacy initiatives. The before and after assessment we undertake develops existing environmental literacy and ocean literacy assessment approaches by integrating social and behavioral research methods to assess key predictors of behavior change. We structured the assessment methodology within a Theory of Change logic model, to provide a protocol for systematic evaluation of ocean literacy initiatives and tools. Specifically those aimed at promoting specific behavior change objectives for pre-identified actors. Assessment of educational training courses for professionals entering the shipping industry (targeting behaviors to reduce the spread of invasive species), and educational workshops for school students (aged 11–15 and 16–18), on problems related to marine litter and microplastics and potential solutions were assessed using the framework. Through before and after surveys, an increase in awareness, knowledge and an increase in attitudes supporting action to reduce impacts on the marine environment were reported by participants, after interaction with sets of tools developed by the Horizon 2020 Ocean Literacy project ResponSEAble. Results supported the importance of targeting specific audiences with tailored ocean literacy tools and the importance of informing actors of issues and solutions within the context of wider ocean literacy principles.
Coastal habitats (e.g., seagrass beds, shallow mud, and sand flats) strongly influence survival, growth, and reproduction of marine fish and invertebrate species. Many of these species have declined over the past decades, coincident with widespread degradation of coastal habitats, such that an urgent need exists to model the quantitative value of coastal habitats to their population dynamics. For exploited species, demand for habitat considerations will increase as fisheries management contends with habitat issues in stock assessments and management in general moves toward a more ecosystem-based approach. The modeling of habitat function has, to date, been done on a case-by-case basis involving diverse approaches and types of population models, which has made it difficult to generalize about methods for incorporating habitat into population models. In this review, we offer guiding concepts for how habitat effects can be incorporated in population models commonly used to simulate the population dynamics of fish and invertebrate species. Many marine species share a similar life-history strategy as long-lived adults with indeterminate growth, high fecundity, a planktonic larval form, and benthic juveniles and adults using coastal habitats. This suite of life-history traits unites the marine species across the case studies, such that the population models can be adapted for other marine species. We categorize population models based on whether they are static or dynamic representations of population status, and for dynamic, further into unstructured, age/size class structured, and individual-based. We then use examples, with an emphasis on exploited species, to illustrate how habitat has been incorporated, implicitly (correlative) and explicitly (mechanistically), into each of these categories. We describe the methods used and provide details on their implementation and utility to facilitate adaptation of the approaches for other species and systems. We anticipate that our review can serve as a stimulus for more widespread use of population models to quantify the value of coastal habitats, so that their importance can be accurately realized and to facilitate cross-species and cross-system comparisons. Quantitative evaluation of habitat effects in population dynamics will increasingly be needed for traditional stock assessments, ecosystem-based management, conservation of at-risk habitats, and recovery of overexploited stocks that rely on critical coastal habitats during their life cycle.
Managing invasive alien species is particularly challenging in the ocean mainly because marine ecosystems are highly connected across broad spatial scales. Eradication of marine invasive species has only been achieved when species were detected early, and management responded rapidly. Generalized approaches, transferable across marine regions, for prioritizing actions to control invasive populations are currently lacking. Here, expert knowledge was elicited to prioritize 11 management actions for controlling 12 model species, distinguished by differences in dispersion capacity, distribution in the area to be managed, and taxonomic identity. Each action was assessed using five criteria (effectiveness, feasibility, acceptability, impacts on native communities, and cost), which were combined in an ‘applicability’ metric. Raising public awareness and encouraging the commercial use of invasive species were highly prioritized, whereas biological control actions were considered the least applicable. Our findings can guide rapid decision-making on prioritizing management options for the control of invasive species especially at early stages of invasion, when reducing managers' response time is critical.
Community marine reserves are geographical areas closed to fishing activities, implemented and enforced by the same fishermen that fish around them. Their main objective is to recover commercial stocks of fish and invertebrates. While marine reserves have proven successful in many parts of the world, their success near important marine predator colonies, such as the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) and the Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii), is yet to be analyzed. In response to the concerns expressed by local fishermen about the impact of the presence of pinnipeds on their communities’ marine reserves, we conducted underwater surveys around four islands in the Pacific west of the Baja California Peninsula: two without reserves (Todos Santos and San Roque); one with a recently established reserve (San Jeronimo); and, a fourth with reserves established eight years ago (Natividad). All these islands are subject to similar rates of exploitation by fishing cooperatives with exclusive rights. We estimated fish biomass and biodiversity in the seas around the islands, applying filters for potential California sea lion and harbor seal prey using known species from the literature. Generalized linear mixed models revealed that the age of the reserve has a significant positive effect on fish biomass, while the site (inside or outside of the reserve) did not, with a similar result found for the biomass of the prey of the California sea lion. Fish biodiversity was also higher around Natividad Island, while invertebrate biodiversity was higher around San Roque. These findings indicate that marine reserves increase overall fish diversity and biomass, despite the presence of top predators, even increasing the numbers of their potential prey. Community marine reserves may help to improve the resilience of marine mammals to climate-driven phenomena and maintain a healthy marine ecosystem for the benefit of both pinnipeds and fishermen.
The fin whale is a globally endangered species and is listed as threatened in Australia, however no peer-reviewed studies are available to indicate the migratory movements of the species in Australian waters. This study uses passive acoustic monitoring as a tool to identify the migratory movements of fin whales in Australian waters. Sampling was conducted from eight locations around Australia between 2009 and 2017, providing a total of 37 annual migratory records. Taken together, our observations provide evidence of fin whale migration through Australian waters, with earliest arrival of the animals recorded on the Western Australian coast, at Cape Leeuwin in April. The whales travel through Cape Leeuwin, migrating northward along the Western Australian coast to the Perth Canyon (May to October), which likely acts as a way-station for feeding. Some whales continue migrating as far north as Dampier (19°S). On Australia’s east coast, at Tuncurry, fin whale seasonal presence each year occurred later, from June to late September/October. A total of only 8,024 fin whale pulses were recorded on the east coast, compared to 177,328 pulses recorded at the Perth Canyon. We suggest these differences, as well as the spatial separation between coasts, provide preliminary evidence that the fin whales present on the east and west coasts constitute separate sub-populations.
The ocean capacity to store carbon is crucial, and currently absorbs about 25% CO2 supply to the atmosphere. The ability to store carbon has an economic value, but such estimates are not common for ocean environments, and not yet estimated for the Arctic Ocean. With the severe climatic changes in the Arctic Ocean, impacting sea ice and potentially the vertical carbon transport mechanisms, a projection of future changes in Arctic Ocean carbon storage is also of interest. In order to value present and evolving carbon storage in the changing Arctic marine environment we combine an ocean model with an economic analysis. Placing a value on these changes helps articulate the importance of the carbon storage service to society. The standing stock and fluxes of organic and inorganic carbon from the atmosphere, rivers, shelves and through the gateways linking to lower latitudes, and to the deep of the Arctic Ocean are investigated using the physically chemically biologically coupled SINMOD model. To obtain indications of the effect of climate change, trajectories of two IPCC climate scenarios RCP 4.5, and RCP 8.5 from the Max Planck Institute were used for the period 2006–2099. The results show an increase in the net carbon storage in the Arctic Ocean in this time period to be 1.0 and 2.3% in the RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5 scenarios, respectively. Most of this increase is caused by an increased atmospheric CO2 uptake until 2070. The continued increase in inorganic carbon storage between 2070 and 2099 results from increased horizontal influx from lower latitude marine regions. First estimates of carbon storage values in the Arctic Ocean are calculated using the social cost of carbon (SCC) and carbon market values as two outer bounds from 2019 to 2099, based on the simulated scenarios. We find the Arctic Ocean will over the time period studied increase its storage of carbon to a value of between €27.6 billion and €1 trillion. This paper clearly neglects a multitude of different negative consequences of climate change in the Arctic, but points to the fact that there are also some positive counterbalancing effects.
Animals that select the best available habitats are most likely to succeed in degraded environments, but ecological change can create evolutionarily unfamiliar habitats that may be under‐ or over‐utilized by native fauna. In temperate coastal waters, eutrophication and grazing have driven a global decline in native seaweeds and facilitated the establishment of non‐native seaweeds that provide novel macrophyte habitat. We tested whether a non‐native kelp canopy (wakame Undaria pinnatifida) functions as a viable habitat or ecological trap for several endemic reef fishes on urchin‐grazed reefs in southern Australia. We assessed the willingness of fish to utilize native vs. wakame kelp canopy via a laboratory habitat choice experiment and by recording natural recruitment to specially constructed boulder reefs with manipulated kelp canopy. We also compared fish communities on natural reefs using a before‐after‐control‐impact survey of wakame patches, and to assess the quality of wakame habitat for resident fish, compared fitness metrics for fish collected from habitats with native vs. wakame kelp canopy. Endemic fishes did not distinguish between the native or wakame canopy but preferred both to barren reef habitats. On urchin‐grazed natural reefs, fish occurred in higher abundance and diversity where seasonal wakame canopy was present. Fitness metrics in fish collected from wakame patches were comparable to those in fish from adjacent native kelp patches. These findings indicate that the non‐native canopy provides a viable habitat for endemic fish and may play a role in sustaining native fauna populations in this degraded ecosystem. More broadly, we recommend that managers consider the role of non‐native habitats within the context of environmental change, as endemic fauna may benefit from non‐native habitat‐formers in areas where their native counterparts cannot persist.
“Forecasting and Understanding Trends, Uncertainty and Responses of North Pacific Marine Ecosystems” (FUTURE) is the flagship integrative Scientific Program undertaken by the member nations and affiliates of the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES). A principal goal of FUTURE is to develop a framework for investigating interactions across disciplinary dimensions in order to most effectively understand large-scale ecosystem changes and resulting impacts on coastal communities. These interactions are complex, often nonlinear, occur across a range of spatial and temporal scales, and can complicate management approaches to shared and trans-boundary problems. Here, we present a Social–Ecological–Environmental Systems (SEES) framework to coordinate and integrate marine science within PICES. We demonstrate the application of this framework by applying it to four “crisis” case studies: (a) species alternation in the western North Pacific; (b) ecosystem impacts of an extreme heat wave in the eastern North Pacific; (c) jellyfish blooms in the western North Pacific; and (d) Pacific basin-scale warming and species distributional shifts. Our approach fosters a common transdisciplinary language and knowledge base across diverse expertise, providing the basis for developing better integrated end-to-end models. PICES provides the structure required to address these and other multi-national, inter-disciplinary issues we face in the North Pacific. An effective and comprehensive SEES approach is broadly applicable to understanding and maintaining resilient marine ecosystems within a changing climate.
This is a living document responding to common questions about marine aquaculture. The download featured on this page may not feature the most recent changes. The document in its most recent stage will exist at http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/seafoodfuture.
- Climate change is impacting marine ecosystems and their goods and services in diverse ways, which can directly hinder our ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), set out under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
- Through expert elicitation and a literature review, we find that most climate change effects have a wide variety of negative consequences across marine ecosystem services, though most studies have highlighted impacts from warming and consequences of marine species.
- Climate change is expected to negatively influence marine ecosystem services through global stressors—such as ocean warming and acidification—but also by amplifying local and regional stressors such as freshwater runoff and pollution load.
- Experts indicated that all SDGs would be overwhelmingly negatively affected by these climate impacts on marine ecosystem services, with eliminating hunger being among the most directly negatively affected SDG.
- Despite these challenges, the SDGs aiming to transform our consumption and production practices and develop clean energy systems are found to be least affected by marine climate impacts. These findings represent a strategic point of entry for countries to achieve sustainable development, given that these two goals are relatively robust to climate impacts and that they are important pre‐requisite for other SDGs.
- Our results suggest that climate change impacts on marine ecosystems are set to make the SDGs a moving target travelling away from us. Effective and urgent action towards sustainable development, including mitigating and adapting to climate impacts on marine systems are important to achieve the SDGs, but the longer this action stalls the more distant these goals will become.
The total spatial coverage of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) within the Brazilian Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) has recently achieved the quantitative requirement of the Aichii Biodiversity Target 11. However, the distribution of MPAs in the Brazilian EEZ is still unbalanced regarding the proportion of protected ecosystems, protection goals and management types. Moreover, the demographic connectivity between these MPAs and their effectiveness regarding the maintenance of biodiversity are still not comprehensively understood. An individual-based modeling scheme coupled with a regional hydrodynamic model of the ocean is used to determine the demographic connectivity of reef fishes based on the widespread genus Sparisoma found in the oceanic islands and on the Brazilian continental shelf between 10° N and 23° S. Model results indicate that MPAs are highly isolated due to extremely low demographic connectivity. Consequently, low connectivity and the long distances separating MPAs contribute to their isolation. Therefore, the current MPA design falls short of its goal of maintaining the demographic connectivity of Sparisoma populations living within these areas. In an extreme scenario in which the MPAs rely solely on protected populations for recruits, it is unlikely that they will be able to effectively contribute to the resilience of these populations or other reef fish species sharing the same dispersal abilities. Results also show that recruitment occurs elsewhere along the continental shelf indicating that the protection of areas larger than the current MPAs would enhance the network, maintain connectivity and contribute to the conservation of reef fishes.