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Effects of variability in spacing of coastal marine reserves on fisheries yield and sustainability

  • Author(s): Kaplan, David M
  • Botsford, L W
  • et al.
Abstract

The size and configuration of marine reserves best suited to reaching fisheries and conservation goals are poorly understood. It has been suggested that variable spacing between reserves is essential to the success of a system of marine reserves. We used numerical models to examine the effect of variable spacing on the efficacy of marine reserves for managing a fish species with sedentary adults and planktonic larvae. Variability in reserve spacing affected catch and recruitment relative to values for a uniform configuration of reserves only for populations near collapse even in the presence of a system of reserves. For species with low fishing rates or large marine reserves, variability in spacing had only a minor effect. At high fishing rates and small reserve sizes, variable reserve placement had a positive local effect on catch and recruitment when several reserves fell close to each other. These configurations led to uneven spatial distributions with greater catch and recruitment in areas with a higher concentration of reserves. Variable reserve spacing can offer additional protection to overfished populations along certain sections of the coastline, but concern for spatial homogeneity will argue for a uniform distribution of reserves covering an adequate proportion of the entire coastline.

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