Enhancing the performance of marine reserves in estuaries: Just add water

  • Published source details Gilby B.L., Olds A.D., Yabsley N.A., Connolly R.M., Maxwell P.S. & Schlacher T.A. (2017) Enhancing the performance of marine reserves in estuaries: Just add water. Biological Conservation, 210, 1-7.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Cease or prohibit all types of fishing in a marine protected area

Action Link
Marine Fish Conservation
  1. Cease or prohibit all types of fishing in a marine protected area

    A site comparison study in 2015 of 22 estuaries in the Tasman Sea, Australia (Gilby et al. 2017) found that prohibiting all fishing in estuarine reserves for between seven-12 years resulted in greater abundance of two of two non-harvested fish species, but lower abundance of four of four commercially harvested fish, compared to fished areas. Average abundance of species not harvested in the region (estuary perchlet Ambassis marianus and blue catfish Neoarius graeffei) was higher in unfished estuarine reserves than fished estuaries (unfished: 0.48–9.57 ind, fished: 0.12–6.33 ind), whereas average abundance of four fisheries-targeted species (yellowfin bream Acanthopagrus australis, grey mullet Mugil cephalus, common toadfish Marilyna pleurosticta, weeping toadfish Torquigener pleurogramma) was lower in the unfished reserves (unfished: 0.06–3.16 ind, fished: 0.39–8.99 ind). In addition, fish communities were different between unfished reserve and fished estuaries (data reported as a graphical analysis). The authors noted that differences in the environmental attributes between the unfished and fished estuaries contributed to the lower abundance in unfished estuaries for harvested fish. Data were collected between June and August 2015 in six no-take (no extractive activities, including fishing; one established 1993, the rest 2008) and 16 fished estuaries in the Moreton Bay Marine Park (created 1993). Fish were surveyed twice (for 1 h) over two days at ten sites (>250 m apart) in each estuary by baited remote underwater video. Counts were made of the maximum numbers of individual fish visible by species.

    (Summarised by: Natasha Taylor)

Output references
What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 19

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape Programme Red List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Bern wood Supporting Conservation Leaders National Biodiversity Network Sustainability Dashboard Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx British trust for ornithology Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Butterfly Conservation People trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust