Dear MPA News,
I am writing in response to your article "The Reserve Effect on Fisheries: In Light of Recent Studies, Should It Be Considered Settled Science?" (MPA News 11:4).
MPA scientists should not get too set with classifying spillover as settled science. In the waters off East Central Florida, I have been fishing just west of a 96-square mile area called the Oculina Bank Habitat Area of Particular Concern since it was closed to reef fishing in 1994 (www.safmc.net/Portals/0/Oculina/OculinaRackCard.pdf). To date, the fishing is not as good in the open area as it used to be prior to the closure, despite all the promises of spillover. This is primarily for two reasons. First is that fishery managers closed the bank but posted too few guards to enforce the closure. Second is there are just as many, and perhaps more, anglers who now concentrate their efforts in the adjacent area. While my observations are anecdotal, they are supported by my fellow anglers who also fish the open area. We have seen no spillover.
Valkaria, Florida, US. E-mail: fishrico [at] aol.com
BOX: Journal issue examines reserve science
A special issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) published in February 2010 is dedicated to recent science on no-take marine reserves, with a focus on how reserves can help meet conservation and fisheries goals simultaneously.
"There is plenty of new evidence to show that if reserves are designed well, they can benefit both fish and fishermen," said Steve Gaines of the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), a guest editor of the PNAS special issue. One article in the issue examines sources and sinks for fish larvae and suggests that, if fishing is prevented in source areas and instead concentrated in sink areas, fisheries could realize a significant gain in value - greater than 10% according to model simulations.
The issue's articles are downloadable for free. Go to www.pnas.org, click on "Early Edition", then scroll down to articles on marine reserves that were posted on February 24 and February 22.