The idea of using marine reserves, where all fishing is banned is not new to fisheries management. It was first formally considered by Beverton and Holt but rejected in favour of approaches such as fleet and gear control. Since that analysis, many fisheries have collapsed worldwide, illustrating the vulnerability of fishery resources and the ineffectiveness of these approaches. Empirical data and modelling suggest that marine reserves would generally increase yields, especially at the high fishing mortality that occurs in most fisheries. However, the most interesting feature of reserves is their ability to provide resilience to overexploitation, thereby reducing the risk of stock collapse. Benefits from reserves come from the increase in biomass and individual size within them, resulting in adult migration and/or larval dispersal that would replenish fishing grounds. The use of marine reserves in managing fisheries necessitates a thorough understanding of critical habitat requirements, fish movement, fish behaviour, the relations between subpopulations and the critical density effect for larval dispersal. When properly designed, and coupled with other management practices, reserves may provide a better insurance against uncertainties in stock assessment, fishing control and management by protecting a part of the population from exploitation. This strategy can be used for both sedentary and migratory species.
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 6, 2004
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