22 Feb 2010:
Marine Reserves Lead to
Robust Recovery of Fisheries, Studies Show
The creation of marine protected areas can lead to the rapid recovery of depleted fish populations
, according to several new studies presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. One study, conducted in a network of 12 marine reserves covering 188 square miles near Los Angeles, showed that since the area was closed to fishing in 2003, heavily-fished species such as blue rockfish have increased by 50 percent. A study of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia showed that when the Australian government increased the portion of the park closed to commercial
fishing from 5 percent to 32 percent in 2003, the biomass of numerous fish species, including coral trout, doubled within two years. In Mexico’s heavily-fished Gulf of California, the creation of the Cabo Pulmo protected area at the southern tip of the Baja peninsula has created a flourishing area of marine life
, according to one study. Another study said that well-designed marine reserves can benefit fisheries outside of protected areas
, since halting fishing in key spawning areas means that fertilized fish eggs can drift with sea currents and replenish populations far from reserves. The studies are being presented today in a special issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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