Effective compliance is a key element to the successful management of marine protected areas (MPAs), and requires a suite of tools to generate awareness of MPA rules, and monitor and regulate their use. Using vessel monitoring systems and creating geo-fences around MPA boundaries is an innovative approach to improve such awareness to vessel masters and commercial fishing licence holders with these systems on-board. In 2014, Parks Australia in partnership with the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) introduced a purpose-built alert service for commercial fishing licence holders operating in Australian Commonwealth fisheries managed by AFMA that overlap with MPAs (Australian marine parks). The alert service is customised for each individual fishing vessel to notify masters and licence holders when they enter Australian marine parks where their particular fishing method is prohibited. Since the introduction of the alert service in 25 marine parks, fishers have received 3307 alerts, across eight fisheries. It is estimated that 23 of these alerts averted compliance incidents, in turn protecting marine park values and saving AUD$4.7 million in litigation costs. Of significance, there has been no recorded incidence of noncompliance by Australian commercial fishing licence holders and their vessel master's with access to the alert service since its introduction. The information presented here is the first empirical analysis of the effectiveness of geo-fencing to minimise noncompliance in MPAs. The alert service has the potential to become a front-line tool for supporting compliance by commercial fishing licence holders and their master's in Australian marine parks and other large-scale MPAs and MPA networks, globally.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
Stock enhancement activities provide an opportunity to examine density-dependent suppression of population biomass which is a fundamental issue for resource management and design of no-take-zones. We document ‘catch-and-wait’ fisheries enhancement where all but the largest lobsters are thrown back, recapturing them later after they have grown to a larger size. The residency, rate of return, and potential negative density-dependent effects of this activity are described using a combination of tagging and v-notching and by relating spatial growth patterns to population density defined with Catch Per Unit Effort. The results successfully demonstrated the concept of catch-and-wait practices. However, a density-dependent suppression of growth (in body size) was observed in male lobsters. This demonstrates a mechanism to explain differences in lobster sizes previously observed across EU fishing grounds with different stock densities. This negative effect of density could also affect individual biomass production in marine reserve or no-take zones.
There is a growing impetus to increase marine protected areas coverage globally from 6% to 30% in 2030. Successfully establishing and maintaining marine protected areas require incorporating public preferences into their establishment and management. We investigate the role of alternate management regimes (top-down and bottom-up) on preferences for marine protected areas and the marginal rate of substitution between natural and man-made capital using a case study in the Asia-Pacific region of Okinawa, Japan. We implemented a choice experiment survey to infer which attributes of marine protected areas are most important for the respondents. We use our survey results to calculate respondents’ willingness to support marine protected areas in Okinawa. This study contributes to the policy debate on management of marine protected areas with empirical data that characterizes the perception of Okinawan residents with respect to the role of local coastal communities (bottom-up) compared to central government based agencies (top-down) management. We extend the analysis and estimate the trade-offs to residents in Okinawa between natural capital (i.e. coral coverage and marine biodiversity attribute) and man-made capital (i.e. restrictions on coastal development). We find that the underlying management regime affects the local residents’ valuation of the marine protected area with residents showing a higher willingness to support bottom-up management regimes. There is also substantial differences in the willingness to support different characteristics of marine protected areas by management type. Finally, we find that the marginal rate of substitution between natural capital and man-made capital varies by management type such that residents would need to be compensated relatively less in terms of man-made capital in the presence of a policy scenario that proposes an increase in natural capital under a bottom-up management regime.
Understanding how no-take zones (NTZs) shape the population dynamics of key herbivores is crucial for the conservation and management of temperate benthic communities. Here, we examine the recovery patterns of sea urchin populations following a high-intensity storm under contrasting protection regimes in the NW Mediterranean Sea. We found significant differences in the recovery trends of Paracentrotus lividus abundance and biomass in the five years following the storm. The P. lividus populations outside the NTZ recovered faster than the populations inside the NTZ, revealing that predation was the main factor controlling the sea urchin populations inside the NTZ during the study period. Arbacia lixula reached the highest abundance and biomass values ever observed outside the NTZ in 2016. Our findings reveal that predation can control the establishment of new sea urchin populations and emphasize top-down control in NTZs, confirming the important role of fully protected areas in the structure of benthic communities.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) have become one of the most widely employed marine management tools worldwide for conserving species and habitats, maintaining ecosystem functioning, and ensuring sustainable use of marine resources. In this study, we adopted a science-based, stakeholder-driven and ecosystem based approach to identify coastal and marine habitats for potential MPA declaration towards achieving Aichi target 11. In addition, we also proposed an integrated management approach for MPA management in Bangladesh. Primary data were collected through stakeholder consultations from the three coastal zones of Bangladesh and secondary data were collected from an extensive literature review. We developed a priority index to select the most important habitats for MPA declaration. Our analysis suggests five potential habitats within the maritime boundary of Bangladesh for MPA declaration. These habitats cover an area of 8838 km2 which is about 7.5% of the total maritime area of Bangladesh. Declaration of the MPAs will contribute to conserve the nursing and breeding habitats of fishes, crabs and seabirds, and thus will protect the marine biodiversity. To achieve this goal, local community involvement is required. This study will serve as a baseline for declaring MPAs in a solid scientific way through community engagement.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are an area-based conservation strategy commonly used to safeguard marine biodiversity and ecosystem services. Ecological connectivity governs the exchange of individuals among spatially fragmented habitats and is often highlighted as an important element in the design of MPAs. However, the degree to which measured or modelled representations of connectivity are applied to marine management decisions worldwide remains unclear. We reviewed the scientific and management literature to explore the application of connectivity in MPAs located in six countries or regions with advanced marine spatial planning. Only 11% of the 746 MPAs we examined considered connectivity as an ecological criterion, increasingly so since 2007. Landscape measures such as habitat linkages were used most frequently by managers and genetic and modelling approaches by scientists. Of the MPAs that considered connectivity, 71% were for state marine conservation areas or reserves in California and commonwealth marine reserves in Australia. This pattern indicates substantial geographic bias. We propose that the incorporation of connectivity in conservation planning needs to become more accessible to practitioners and provide four recommendations that together will allow scientists and managers to bridge this gap: 1. determine whether to prioritize connectivity as an ecological criterion, 2. identify the role of an MPA in supporting connectivity, 3. identify the appropriate spatial and temporal scale of connectivity, and 4. improve regional knowledge of connectivity patterns. We also propose a framework to facilitate the communication of metrics and patterns of connectivity between scientists and practitioners to apply the best available information in the design and adaptive management of MPAs and networks of MPAs.
Reef sharks are vulnerable predators experiencing severe population declines mainly due to overexploitation. However, beyond direct exploitation, human activities can produce indirect or sub-lethal effects such as behavioral alterations. Such alterations are well known for terrestrial fauna but poorly documented for marine species. Using an extensive sampling of 367 stereo baited underwater videos systems, we show modifications in grey reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) occurrence and feeding behavior along a marked gradient of isolation from humans across the New Caledonian archipelago (South-Western Pacific). The probability of occurrence decreased by 68.9% between wilderness areas (more than 25 hours travel time from the capital city) and impacted areas while the few individuals occurring in impacted areas exhibited cautious behavior. We also show that only large no-entry reserves (above 150 km²) can protect the behavior of grey reef sharks found in the wilderness. Influencing the fitness, human linked behavioral alterations should be taken into account for management strategies to ensure the persistence of populations.
The 1988 Brazilian Federal Constitution established the promotion of environmental education (EE) as a Government’s public policy, which constitutes an important legal frame addressing this subject in Brazil, also considering the EE activities in coastal and marine protected areas (CMPAs). This chapter presents the legal frame, concepts, and potentialities of EE in CMPAs. Also, it highlights some experiences of EE in Brazilian PAs particularly to identify gaps, potentialities, and specificities for the development of coastal and marine environmental education (CMEE). Despite the conceptual and legal support for the development of EE activities in CMPAs, managers have a great difficulty to achieve these goals given the lack of funding, resources, personnel, and training, among other challenges that will be presented throughout this chapter. Thereby, environmental interpretation strategies assume great importance as well as citizen science initiatives and partnerships between public entities, civil society, and educational institutions. Considering this, it is of fundamental importance to encourage the social participation and diversity of partnerships. Also, it is necessary to test and improve CMEE methodologies in order to potentiate the teaching and learning process and to strength the democratic participation in the CMPAs management. In addition, it is clear that the CMEE needs financial independence, which could be supplied by the ecotourism in the CMPAs, but such initiatives are still incipient in Brazil.
For many species, reproductive failure may occur if abundance drops below critical Allee thresholds for successful breeding, in some cases impeding recovery. At the same time, extreme environmental events can cause catastrophic collapse in otherwise healthy populations. Understanding what natural processes and management strategies may allow for persistence and recovery of natural populations is critical in the face of expected climate change scenarios of increased environmental variability. Using a spatially explicit continuous-size fishery model with stochastic dispersal parameterized for abalone—a harvested species with sedentary adults and a dispersing larval phase—we investigated whether the establishment of a system of marine protected areas (MPAs) can prevent population collapse, compared with nonspatial management when populations are affected by mass mortality from environmental shocks and subject to Allee effects. We found that MPA networks dramatically reduced the risk of collapse following catastrophic events (75%–90% mortality), while populations often continued to decline in the absence of spatial protection. Similar resilience could be achieved by closing the fishery immediately following mass mortalities but would necessitate long periods without catch and therefore economic income. For species with Allee effects, the use of protected areas can ensure persistence following mass mortality events while maintaining ecosystem services during the recovery period.
Many models have assessed how marine reserves protect fish populations and—under certain conditions—simultaneously increase yield. Only recently have models considered the effects of fishing-induced habitat damage by assuming reduced population growth in fishing areas. Even though it is understood that fish movement patterns affect the functioning and design of marine reserves, fishing-induced changes in movement patterns, as a response to decreased habitat quality, have not been studied in this context. Our work explores how harvesting-induced movement behaviour of fish can affect optimal yield and size of a marine reserve. Our model is based on reaction-diffusion equations and recent advances in their application to strongly heterogeneous environments with sharp transitions in environmental conditions. We model movement behaviour in response to harvesting and habitat destruction via increased diffusion rates and increased preference for protected areas, and implement reduced reproduction as an effect of habitat degradation. We find an alternative mechanistic explanation for the empirical observation that high fish mobility may not decrease fish density inside a reserve. We also find that movement-behavioural responses of fish to harvesting can decrease the economic value of protected areas and increase their conservation value. For maximum sustainable yield, we find that a low harvesting rate and small protected area are optimal when fish show a strong preference for protected areas as a response to fishing efforts. On the other hand, a high harvesting rate and a large protected area are optimal if fish respond to harvesting by a strong increase in movement rates in fishing areas.