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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Change in size and abundance of Caribbean spiny lobsters Panulirus argus in a marine reserve in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, USA

Published source details

Cox C. & Hunt J. (2005) Change in size and abundance of Caribbean spiny lobsters Panulirus argus in a marine reserve in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, USA. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 294, 227-239


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Designate a Marine Protected Area and prohibit all types of fishing Subtidal Benthic Invertebrate Conservation

A replicated, randomized, site comparison study in 1997–2001 in two areas of rocky reef in the Florida Keys, USA (Cox & Hunt 2005) found that inside a protected marine reserve prohibiting all fishing and harvesting, the size and abundance of Caribbean spiny lobsters Panulirus argus were higher compared to outside the reserve where seasonal fishing was allowed, but the population sex ratio was similar. On average over the four years following its designation, lobsters were bigger inside the reserve (82–94 mm carapace length), compared to outside (77–85 mm). There were more lobsters bigger than 76.2 mm (legal-catch size) in the reserve (3–86/60 min search) compared to outside (0.7–71/60 min search). The population sex ratio was not significantly different inside (0.5–3 female:male) and outside the reserve (0.4–5). In addition, inside the reserve, average lobster sizes increased during the study (1997: 82–86; 2001: 87–94 mm). In July 1997, a 3,000-ha reserve was established prohibiting all fishing and harvesting year-round. Annually in July and September of 1997–2001, divers counted, measured, and recorded the sex of lobsters during twenty-four 60 min timed-surveys at randomly-chosen locations; twelve inside and twelve outside the reserve.

(Summarised by Anaëlle Lemasson)