Designate a Marine Protected Area and introduce some fishing restrictions (types unspecified)
Overall effectiveness category Likely to be beneficial
Number of studies: 4
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How is the evidence assessed?
Background information and definitions
Fishing can impact subtidal benthic invertebrates through species removal or habitat damage from gear entering in contact with the seabed (Collie et al. 2000). Specific areas can be designated as protected, and specific management measures taken to control for impactful activities, such as commercial, recreational, or artisanal fishing (Villamor & Becerro 2012), for instance by restricting specific gear or practices. Inside protected areas where some levels of fishing are prohibited, the threat to subtidal benthic invertebrates is removed, and previously impacted populations are, in theory, able to recover over time (Ley‐Cooper et al. 2014). However, species and populations are still subjected to the effects of other fishing activities allowed (for instance recreational fishing).
Here, we present evidence for marine protected areas where the exact level or nature of the fishing restrictions are unclear or unspecified. Evidence for related interventions regarding fishing restrictions within protected areas is summarised under “Habitat protection”.
Collie J.S., Hall S.J., Kaiser M.J. & Poiner I.R. (2000) A quantitative analysis of fishing impacts on shelf‐sea benthos. Journal of Animal Ecology, 69, 785–798.
Ley‐Cooper K., De Lestang S., Phillips B.F. & Lozano‐Álvarez E. (2014) An unfished area enhances a spiny lobster, Panulirus argus, fishery: implications for management and conservation within a Biosphere Reserve in the Mexican Caribbean. Fisheries Management and Ecology, 21, 264–274.
Villamor A. & Becerro M.A. (2012) Species, trophic, and functional diversity in marine protected and non-protected areas. Journal of Sea Research, 73, 109–116.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A site comparison study in 2001–2004 in areas of seabed in the Indian Ocean, off the south coast of South Africa (Götz et al. 2009) found that sites inside a marine protected area closed to fishing (exact restrictions unspecified) had a different overall invertebrate and algae community composition and abundances of three of five species groups compared to adjacent fished sites. Community data were presented as graphical analyses. Protected sites had statistically higher abundance (as percentage cover) of sponges (25%) and hydrozoans (9%) compared to fished sites (sponges: 19%; hydrozoans: 7%), lower abundance of sea lilies (closed: 6% vs fished: 10%), and similar abundances of sea quirts (15% vs 13%) and bryozoans (20% vs 24%) than fished sites. Annually in 2001–2004, video footage was recorded at 10–30 m depth at 2–7 sites surveyed inside the protected area (year of designation unspecified), and 4–13 sites outside. At each site, a 225 m2 area was video-recorded. Footage was analysed and cover of five invertebrate taxa and algae assessed.Study and other actions tested
A replicated, site comparison study in 2008 of 21 sites in seven coral reefs areas across the inner islands of the Seychelles, Indian Ocean (Cariglia et al. 2013) found that sea cucumbers (thirteen species combined) tended to be more abundant inside marine protected areas prohibiting some fishing (exact restrictions unspecified) compared to adjacent fished areas. Seventy-six percent of all sea cucumbers (thirteen species combined) were found within protected areas. The average abundance of sea cucumbers appeared higher in protected areas (2/154 m2), compared to fished areas (0/154 m2), although no statistical test was reported. The probability of finding sea cucumbers was reported to be higher in protected areas (79%), compared to fished areas (48%). In April, divers counted sea cucumbers in three protected areas (established >20 years prior; date unspecified) and four unprotected areas (three sites/area) within sixteen 154 m2 circles/site.Study and other actions tested
A systematic review of 27 studies published before February 2011 of marine protected areas partially prohibiting fishing (restrictions unspecified) across the world (Sciberras et al. 2013) found that they had greater abundances of scallops and lobsters compared to outside where fishing was fully allowed. Average lobster abundance was 0.53 times higher, and scallop density 2.33 times higher, inside marine protected areas compared to outside. Exact species were not specified. Abundance data were not reported, but the outcome of analysis was reported as statistical model results. The selected studies compared invertebrate abundance inside and outside 25 marine protected areas with partial fishing prohibition. The abundance data were extracted and used in a meta-analysis.Study and other actions tested
A replicated, site comparison study (year unspecified) of 28 sites across 14 rocky reef areas in the western Mediterranean Sea, Italy (Piazzi et al. 2016) found that protected areas with ‘low human pressures’ (restrictions unspecified) had similar overall invertebrate and algae community composition to unprotected areas with ‘high human pressures’, and similar invertebrate abundance. Community composition data were presented as graphical analyses. Percent cover of invertebrates was similar in protected (6.2%) and unprotected areas (3.7%). Invertebrates and algae were surveyed at two sites inside each of seven marine protected areas (fishing restrictions unspecified) and seven unprotected areas. All protected areas were established between 1997 and 1999 and reported to “preserve reefs from all human activities”. At 30–40 m depth, 10 plots (0.2 m2) were photographed at three 10 m2 locations/site. Invertebrates and algae species were identified and their % cover estimated from each photograph. Date of study unspecified.Study and other actions tested
Where has this evidence come from?
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This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:Subtidal Benthic Invertebrate Conservation