Current debates about the efficacy of no-take marine reserves (MR) in protecting large pelagic fish such as tuna and sharks have usually not considered the evolutionary dimension of this issue, which emerges because the propensity to swim away from a given place, like any other biological trait, will probably vary in a heritable fashion among individuals. Here, based on spatially explicit simulations, we investigated whether selection to remain in MRs to avoid higher fishing mortality can lead to the evolution of more philopatric fish. Our simulations, which covered a range of life histories among tuna species (skipjack tuna vs. Atlantic bluefin tuna) and shark species (great white sharks vs. spiny dogfish), suggested that MRs were most effective at maintaining viable population sizes when movement distances were lowest. Decreased movement rate evolved following the establishment of marine reserves, and this evolution occurred more rapidly with higher fishing pressure. Evolutionary reductions in movement rate led to increases in within-reserve population sizes over the course of the 50 years following MR establishment, although this varied among life histories, with skipjack responding fastest and great white sharks slowest. Our results suggest the evolution of decreased movement can augment the efficacy of marine reserves, especially for species, such as skipjack tuna, with relatively short generation times. Even when movement rates did not evolve substantially over 50 years (e.g., given long generation times or little heritable variation), marine reserves were an effective tool for the conservation of fish populations when mean movement rates were low or MRs were large.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are increasingly being used globally to conserve marine resources. However, whether many MPAs are being effectively and equitably managed, and how MPA management influences substantive outcomes remain unknown. We developed a global database of management and fish population data (433 and 218 MPAs, respectively) to assess: MPA management processes; the effects of MPAs on fish populations; and relationships between management processes and ecological effects. Here we report that many MPAs failed to meet thresholds for effective and equitable management processes, with widespread shortfalls in staff and financial resources. Although 71% of MPAs positively influenced fish populations, these conservation impacts were highly variable. Staff and budget capacity were the strongest predictors of conservation impact: MPAs with adequate staff capacity had ecological effects 2.9 times greater than MPAs with inadequate capacity. Thus, continued global expansion of MPAs without adequate investment in human and financial capacity is likely to lead to sub-optimal conservation outcomes.
Bleaching events are becoming more frequent and are projected to become annual in Micronesia by 2040. To prepare for this threat, the Government of Palau is reviewing its marine protected area network to increase the resilience of the reefs by integrating connectivity into the network design. To support their effort, we used high-throughput sequencing of microsatellites to create genotypes of colonies of the coral Acropora hyacinthus to characterize population genetic structure and dispersal patterns that led to the recovery of Palau’s reefs from a 1998 bleaching event. We found no evidence of a founder effect or refugium where colonies may have survived to recolonize the reef. Instead, we found significant pairwise F′stvalues, indicating population structure and low connectivity among most of the 25 sites around Palau. We used kinship to measure genetic differences at the individual level among sites and found that differences were best explained by the degree of exposure to the ocean [F1,20 = 3.015, Pr(>F) = 0.01], but with little of the total variation explained. A permutation test of the pairwise kinship coefficients revealed that there was self-seeding within sites. Overall, the data point to the population of A. hyacinthus in Palau recovering from a handful of surviving colonies with population growth primarily from self-seeding and little exchange among sites. This finding has significant implications for the management strategies for the reefs of Palau, and we recommend increasing the number and distribution of management areas around Palau to capture the genetic architecture and increase the chances of protecting potential refuges in the future.
Territorial use rights in fisheries (TURFs) paired with marine reserves (henceforth called "TURF-reserves") have been proposed as a viable management strategy to combat overfishing in many small-scale fisheries by combining the TURF benefits of exclusive access with the conservation, spillover, and resilience benefits of reserves. When appropriately designed and implemented, TURF- reserves can encourage stewardship and empower fishers to better manage their resources. While tools that assist spatial design in marine nearshore contexts exist, they are data intensive, require expertise in software operation, and often need Internet connection. We developed the TURF-Reserve Design Tool to assist spatial design in settings where these elements are not present by providing an easy-to-use decision support tool for small-scale fisheries contexts. This tool consists of a spatial bioeconomic model that allows managers to analyze the relative performance of TURF-reserve designs for a specific setting by assessing the relative ecological and economic outcomes of each design.
Unsustainable fishing in marine systems creates fisheries management and conservation challenges, with implications for ecosystem health, livelihoods, economies, and seafood supply. Thus there is a need for management approaches that can support productive fisheries and healthy ecosystems. Property rights, and particularly spatial rights or territorial use rights in fisheries (TURFs), are increasingly proposed as a solution. It has been suggested that TURFs may align fishers' incentives with long-term stewardship, resulting in improved yields and positive conservation outcomes. Here we examined this idea by reviewing existing theoretical and empirical evidence for TURF performance in achieving both fisheries and conservation goals, and find equivocal evidence that TURFs can consistently deliver on this promise. We then explored the potential to improve outcomes by implementing no-take marine reserves with TURFs ("TURF-reserves"). We evaluated theoretical and empirical evidence in the literature and develop a simulation model to examine tradeoffs for achieving conservation and fishery objectives. With our model, we examined different management regimes (e.g., open access vs TURFs), harvest controls within the TURF (e.g., selectivity and harvest rate restrictions), and varying reserve sizes. We found that combining reserves with TURFs does not eliminate the tradeoff between fisheries and conservation goals if the TURF already effectively controls fishing pressure. However, given the results from our literature review, many TURFs may not achieve effective fisheries management. Thus, TURF-reserves may be better able to balance fisheries and conservation goals relative to TURF-only systems, but outcomes will depend on target species mobility, TURF size, and fishing intensity outside the TURF-reserve.
Globally, few protected areas exist in areas beyond the jurisdiction of a single state. However, for over 50 years the Antarctic protected areas system has operated in a region governed through multi-national agreement by consensus. We examined the Antarctic Treaty System to determine how protected area designation under a multi-party framework may evolve. The protected areas system, now legislated through the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty and the Convention on the Conservation of Marine Living Resources, remains largely unsystematic and underdeveloped. Since the Antarctic Treaty entered into force in 1961, the original signatory Parties – and Parties with territorial claims in particular − have dominated work towards the designation of protected areas in the region. The distribution of protected areas proposed by individual Parties has largely reflected the location of Parties’ research stations which, in turn, is influenced by national geopolitical factors. Recently non-claimant Parties have become more involved in area protection, with a concurrent increase in areas proposed by two or more Parties. However, overall, the rate of protected area designation has almost halved in the past 10 years. We explore scenarios for the future development of Antarctic protected areas and suggest that the early engagement of Parties in collaborative area protection may strengthen the protected areas system and help safeguard the continent’s values for the future. Furthermore, we suggest that the development of Antarctica’s protected areas system may hold valuable insights for area protection in other regions under multi-Party governance, or areas beyond national jurisdiction such as the high seas or outer space.
The population of Pacific cod inhabiting off northeastern Honshu Japan has remarkably increased in the 3 yr after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. We examined the processes and factors leading to this increase based on the results of estimations of commercial catch and fishing activities, and trawl surveys. Pacific cod was highly exploited from 1 yr old before 2011. However, fishing pressure has markedly decreased after 2011 in the area around Fukushima waters. Fish abundance in 2013 and 2014 was estimated to be more than four-fold of the maximum amount before 2011. The cohort structure of the population in 2013 and 2014 was primarily composed of 2–4-yr-old fish (2010–2011 yr classes) whereas the population in pre-2011 was primarily of 1-yr-old fish. The 2010–2011 yr classes had almost the same population sizes until 1.3 yr old to the pre-2009 yr classes, but became much higher more than 2.8 yr old. Pacific cod from 1.3 to 2.8 yr old were concentrated in the area off Fukushima Prefecture. These results suggest that Pacific cod increased post-2011 not because of the occurrence of strong year classes followed by good recruitments but because of the lower mortality after recruitment owing to reduced fishing mortality. Waters off Fukushima, the primary nursery of Pacific cod, are effectively serving as a marine protected area after the tsunami events. A close coincidence between the nursery area of young fish and the protected area strongly altered the age composition of the population and enhanced fish abundance.
In this era of fiscal constraint following the global financial crisis, marine protected areas (MPAs) occupy a remarkable position in the economic landscape. Few government authorities seem concerned about the prevalence of white elephants – illusionary MPAs that carry a financial cost. Whereas no government minister would consider developing a health system based solely on number of hospital beds (irrespective of whether all hospitals are concentrated within a single city, or occupants of beds have access to medical staff, or patients are living or dying), MPAs are largely assessed on a single numerical target (total area). Inconsistent self-identification adds an extra level of opaqueness. The net consequence is an unaccountable and under-performing system, an outcome that is both tragic and economically wasteful.
Building on work presented at the IUCN World Parks Congress (WPC) held in Sydney, Australia, on 12–19 November 2014, this document explores experiences with aquatic protected areas (PAs), marine protected areas (MPAs) and protected areas in inland waters in the context of livelihoods and food security. It includes: (i) ten papers reporting on the interface of MPA/protected areas with livelihoods and food security, based on case studies in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania; (ii) an eleventh contribution providing a more general overview of MPAs and food security and how to assess their impact; and (iii) a final paper synthesizing the conclusions of the papers and discussing the observed outcomes of aquatic PAs, together with problems and solutions.
Marine spatial planning (MSP) is increasingly utilized to sustainably manage ocean uses. Marine protected areas (MPAs), a form of spatial management in which parts of the ocean are regulated to fishing, are now a common tool in MSP for conserving marine biodiversity and managing fisheries. However, the use of MPAs in MSP often neglects, or simplifies, the redistribution of fishing and non-fishing activities inside and outside of MPAs following their implementation. This redistribution of effort can have important implications for effective MSP. Using long-term (14 yr) aerial surveys of boats at the California Channel Islands, we examined the spatial redistribution of fishing and non-fishing activities and their drivers following MPA establishment. Our data represent 6 yr of information before the implementation of an MPA network and 8 yr after implementation. Different types of boats responded in different ways to the closures, ranging from behaviors by commercial dive boats that support the hypothesis of fishing-the-line, to behaviors by urchin, sport fishing, and recreational boats that support the theory of ideal free distribution. Additionally, we found that boats engaged in recreational activities targeted areas that are sheltered from large waves and located near their home ports, while boats engaged in fishing activities also avoided high wave areas but were not constrained by the distance to their home ports. We did not observe the expected pattern of effort concentration near MPA borders for some boat types; this can be explained by the habitat preference of certain activities (for some activities, the desired habitat attributes are not inside the MPAs), species' biology (species such as urchins where the MPA benefit would likely come from larval export rather than adult spillover), or policy-infraction avoidance. The diversity of boat responses reveals variance from the usual simplified assumption that all extractive boats respond similarly to MPA establishment. Our work is the first empirical study to analyze the response of both commercial and recreational boats to closure. Our results will inform MSP in better accounting for effort redistribution by ocean users in response to the implementation of MPAs and other closures.