Marine protected areas (MPAs) are implemented worldwide as an efficient tool to preserve biodiversity and protect ecosystems. We used food web models (Ecopath and EcoTroph) to assess the ability of MPAs to reduce fishing impacts on targeted resources and to provide biomass exports for adjacent fisheries. Three coastal MPAs: Bonifacio and Port-Cros (Mediterranean Sea), and Bamboung (Senegalese coast), were used as case studies. Pre-existing related Ecopath models were homogenized and ecosystem characteristics were compared based on network indices and trophic spectra analyses. Using the EcoTroph model, we simulated different fishing mortality scenarios and assessed fishing impacts on the three ecosystems. Lastly, the potential biomass that could be exported from each MPA was estimated. Despite structural and functional trophic differences, the three MPAs showed similar patterns of resistance to simulated fishing mortalities, with the Bonifacio case study exhibiting the highest potential catches and a slightly inferior resistance to fishing. We also show that the potential exports from our small size MPAs are limited and thus may only benefit local fishing activities. Based on simulations, their potential exports were estimated to be at the same order of magnitude as the amount of catch that could have been obtained inside the reserve. In Port Cros, the ban of fishing inside MPA could actually allow for improved catch yields outside the MPA due to biomass exports. This was not the case for the Bonifacio site, as its potential exports were too low to offset catch losses. This insight suggests the need for MPA networks and/or sufficiently large MPAs to effectively protect juveniles and adults and provide important exports. Finally, we discuss the effects of MPAs on fisheries that were not considered in food web models, and conclude by suggesting possible improvements in the analysis of MPA efficiency.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
Protection of natural environments sought through management plans varies greatly between countries; characterizing these differences and what motivates them can inform future regional and international conservation efforts. This research builds on previous work addressing the spatial distribution of marine protected areas in the Mediterranean Sea. Particularly, it examines the relationship between a “protection level” (PL) score and a set of variables pertaining to each country's conservation efforts, economic conditions, and human impact along the coast using regression analysis. Four sets of models demonstrated country characteristics that correlate with higher protection levels within marine protected areas (MPAs). Certain contextual factors - economic dependence on the marine environment, efforts at terrestrial conservation and greater human impact - were found to be significantly associated with higher PLs among the northern littoral countries of the Mediterranean. Such findings can inform policy makers about where efforts and investments should be directed for marine conservation.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been established over the world to protect marine resources from over-exploitation. Weh Island, Sabang, Indonesia, has two MPAs: Weh Island Marine Recreational Park (WMRP) and Weh Island Marine Protected Area (WMPA). The WMRP was established by the Government of Indonesia in 1982 and is managed by the Natural Resources Conservation Agency in the Ministry of Forestry. The other, WMPA, was established in 2010 and is managed by the Government of Sabang׳s Marine Affairs and Fisheries Agency. First, this study reviews the regulations of the two MPAs. There are 17 regulations related to the management of the two MPAs. WMRP is governed centrally based on Law No. 32, and the WMPA has shifted to a bottom-up system based on Fisheries Law No. 31. In addition, the customary management system called Panglima Laot, which literally translates to “Sea Commander” functions for local residents. Second, 185 questionnaires were completed by government offices, non-governmental organizations, fishermen, and marine tourism operators from January to September 2013. The survey showed all respondents support the development of MPAs. More respondents in the WMPA are familiar with the MPA and received benefits from MPAs. Fishermen of the WMRP considered their participation to be low and have lower trust in the government. The participants in the WMRP considered that “support of all stakeholders׳ awareness of the marine environment” is most important. On the other hand, “improved understanding of benefits from MPAs” was an influential factor in the WMPA. To further strengthen the management of MPAs, the stakeholders should work together to apply a bottom-up management system, clarify the zoning, set educational programs to inform public perceptions, ensure enforcement capacity, conduct scientific research on the resource, and develop a network of MPAs in the long term.
Understanding changes in trophic group interactions following the implementation of marine protected areas (MPAs) is critical in understanding their success, or otherwise. A systematic review and meta-analysis was used to determine trends in the effects of MPAs on primary producers and herbivores from 57 locations throughout the world. On coral reefs, macroalgal coverage and sea urchin density were significantly (p<0.05p<0.05) lower within MPAs, with 79% and 83% of MPAs reporting smaller populations of these groups, respectively. Conversely, in kelp/algal habitats, where habitat-forming macroalgae are beneficial, no statistical differences were found in either algal coverage or herbivore density, however, 70% of MPAs reported lower densities of urchins. Finally, we found that the literature conveyed a significant negative relationship between grazer density effect sizes and macroalgal coverage effect sizes. Our results indicate that the tropho-dynamics of recovering fish populations in disparate habitats is likely to be more complex than initially thought, and partly driven by differential fisheries and habitat effects. This study highlights the importance of selecting MPAs based on the processes that assist in the recovery of ecosystems in the aftermath of fishing, in addition to habitat quality and representativeness.
The marine managed areas (MMAs) of the U.S. Caribbean are summarized and specific data-rich cases are examined to determine their impact upon fisheries management in the region. In this region, the productivity and connectivity of benthic habitats such as mangroves, seagrass and coral reefs is essential for many species targeted by fisheries. A minority of the 39 MMAs covering over 4000 km2 serve any detectable management or conservation function due to deficiencies in the design, objectives, compliance or enforcement. Fifty percent of the area within MMA boundaries had no-take regulations in the U.S. Virgin Islands, while Puerto Rico only had 3%. Six case studies are compared and contrasted to better understand the potential of these MMAs for fisheries management. Signs of success were associated with including sufficient areas of essential fish habitat (nursery, spawning and migration corridors), year-round no-take regulations, enforcement and isolation. These criteria have been identified as important in the conservation of marine resources, but little has been done to modify the way MMAs are designated and implemented in the region. Site-specific monitoring to measure the effects of these MMAs is needed to demonstrate the benefits to fisheries and gain local support for a greater use as a fisheries management tool.
As the number of marine protected areas (MPAs) increases globally, so does the need to assess if MPAs are meeting their management goals. Integral to this assessment is usually a long-term biological monitoring program, which can be difficult to develop for large and remote areas that have little available fine-scale habitat and biological data. This is the situation for many MPAs within the newly declared Australian Commonwealth Marine Reserve (CMR) network which covers approximately 3.1 million km2 of continental shelf, slope, and abyssal habitat, much of which is remote and difficult to access. A detailed inventory of the species, types of assemblages present and their spatial distribution within individual MPAs is required prior to developing monitoring programs to measure the impact of management strategies. Here we use a spatially-balanced survey design and non-extractive baited video observations to quantitatively document the fish assemblages within the continental shelf area (a multiple use zone, IUCN VI) of the Flinders Marine Reserve, within the Southeast marine region. We identified distinct demersal fish assemblages, quantified assemblage relationships with environmental gradients (primarily depth and habitat type), and described their spatial distribution across a variety of reef and sediment habitats. Baited videos recorded a range of species from multiple trophic levels, including species of commercial and recreational interest. The majority of species, whilst found commonly along the southern or south-eastern coasts of Australia, are endemic to Australia, highlighting the global significance of this region. Species richness was greater on habitats containing some reef and declined with increasing depth. The trophic breath of species in assemblages was also greater in shallow waters. We discuss the utility of our approach for establishing inventories when little prior knowledge is available and how such an approach may inform future monitoring efforts within the CMR network.
This is a short guide to governance for protected/conserved areas that briefly summarizes the points in the full-length report, Governance of Protected Areas.
While efforts to meet international commitments to counter biodiversity declines by establishing networks of marine protected areas (MPAs) continue, assessments of MPAs rarely take into account measures of effectiveness of different categories of protection, or other design principles (size, spacing, governance considerations). We carried out a meta-analysis of ecological effectiveness of IUCN Categories I–II (no-take), IV and VI (MPAs) compared to unprotected areas. We then applied our ecological effectiveness estimates – the added benefit of marine protection over and above conventional fisheries management – to a gap analysis of existing MPAs, and MPAs proposed by four indigenous groups on the Central Coast of British Columbia, Canada. Additionally, we assessed representation, size, spacing, and governance considerations against MPA design criteria outlined in the literature. We found significant differences in response ratios for IUCN Categories IV and VI MPAs compared to no-take reserves and areas open to fishing, although variability in responses was high. By rescaling the predicted ecological effectiveness ratios (including confidence estimates), we found that, compared to no-take reserves (biodiversity conservation effectiveness 100%) and open fishing areas (0% additional biodiversity contribution over and above conventional fisheries management), IUCN Category IV had a predicted effectiveness score of 60%, ranging between 34% and 89% (95% lower and upper confidence intervals, respectively), and IUCN Category VI had a predicted effectiveness score of 24% (ranging between −12% and 72% for the 95% lower and upper confidence intervals, respectively). We found that the existing MPAs did poorly when compared against most MPA design criteria, whereas the proposed MPA network achieved many of the best practices identified in the literature, and could achieve all if some additional sites were added. By using the Central Coast of British Columbia as a case study, we demonstrated a method for applying empirically-based ecological effectiveness estimates to an assessment of MPA design principles for an existing and proposed network of MPAs.
This book is a critical analysis of the concept of marine protected areas (MPAs) particularly as a tool for marine resource management. It explains the reasons for the extraordinary rise of MPAs to the top of the political agenda for marine policy, and evaluates the scientific credentials for the unprecedented popularity of this management option. The book reveals the role played by two policy networks – epistemic community and advocacy coalition – in promoting the notion of MPA, showing how advocacy for marine reserves by some scientists based on limited evidence of fisheries benefits has led to a blurring of the boundary between science and politics. Second, the study investigates whether the scientific consensus on MPAs has resulted in a publication bias, whereby pro-MPA articles are given preferential treatment by peer-reviewed academic journals, though it found only limited evidence of such a bias. Third, the project conducts a systematic review of the literature to determine the ecological effects of MPAs, and reaches the conclusion that there is little proof of a positive impact on finfish populations in temperate waters. Fourth, the study uses discourse analysis to trace the effects of a public campaigning policy network on marine conservation zones (MCZs) in England, which demonstrated that there was considerable confusion over the objectives that MCZs were being designated to achieve. The book’s conclusion is that the MPA issue shows the power of ideas in marine governance, but offers a caution that scientists who cross the line between science and politics risk exaggerating the benefits of MPAs by glossing over uncertainties in the data, which may antagonise the fishing industry, delay resolution of the MPA issue, and weaken public faith in marine science if and when the benefits of MCZs are subsequently seen to be limited.
Recreational users appreciate the UK marine environment for its cultural ecosystem services (CES) and their use and non-use values. UK Governments are currently establishing a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) informed by ecological data and socio-economic evidence. Evidence on CES values is needed, but only limited data have been available. We present a case study from the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) follow-on phase that elicited divers’ and anglers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for potential MPAs. The case study is an innovative combination of a travel-cost based choice experiment and an attribute-based contingent valuation method. Our study design allowed us to understand the marine users’ preferences from both a user and a stewardship perspective. Following the UK NEA’s place-based CES framework, we characterised marine CES as environmental spaces that might be protected, with features including the underwater seascape, and iconic and non-iconic species. Our survey highlighted the importance of CES to divers and anglers. A wide variety of marine spaces influenced user-WTP, while stewardship-WTP was most influenced by management restrictions, species protection, and attitudes towards marine conservation. An understanding of key stakeholders’ CES values can inform a more holistic and sustainable approach to marine management, especially for decisions involving trade-offs between marine protection and opportunity costs of the blue economy.