No-take marine reserves can enhance population persistence and support the fishery of abalone

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Authors Marisa Rossetto, Fiorenza Micheli, Andrea Saenz-Arroyo, Jose Antonio Espinoza Montes, Giulio Alessandro De Leo
Journal/Conference Name Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Paper Category
Paper Abstract A critical aspect in the design of a marine reserve (MR) network is its spatial configuration (i.e., the number, size, and spacing of the individual reserves), particularly how these features influence the effect on fisheries. Here, we derived a size-based, spatially explicit, stochastic demographic model to explore how different spatial configurations of MR networks can affect abundance and commercial yield of the green abalone (Haliotis fulgens), taking as a reference case the abalone fishery of Isla Natividad in Baja California Sur (Mexico). Our analysis suggests that a network of MRs can have a positive effect on abalone population abundance and a slightly negative effect on fishery output with respect to traditional maximum sustainable yield (MSY; i.e., with no reserves). Simulations show that maximum catches achievable with MRs are, under the best configuration, ∼2%–14% lower than traditional MSY depending on the total fraction of the fishing grounds protected. In the case of overexploitation, long-term yields can increase following the implementation of MRs. In addition, in the presence of MRs, abundances and yields are much less sensitive to systematic errors in the enforcement of the optimal harvesting rate compared with situations in which MRs are not present. Given the limited dispersal ability of the species, the best outcomes in terms of fishery output would be achieved with very small reserves — around 100 m wide — so to maximize larval export in the fishable areas. Our results indicate appropriately designed MR networks are an effective strategy for meeting both conservation and economic goals under uncertainty. While the size of the existing reserves in Isla Natividad seems adequate to protect the abalone stock, smaller reserves could maximize fishery benefits, although this poses challenges for enforcement.
Date of publication 2015
Code Programming Language R

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