No-take marine reserves increase abundance and biomass of reef fish on inshore fringing reefs of the Great Barrier Reef

  • Published source details Williamson D.H., Russ G.R. & Ayling A.M. (2004) No-take marine reserves increase abundance and biomass of reef fish on inshore fringing reefs of the Great Barrier Reef. Environmental Conservation, 31, 149-159.


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 replicated, paired, before-and-after, site comparison study in 1983–2000 at two coral reef areas in the Coral Sea, Australia (Williamson et al. 2004) found that prohibiting all fishing (no-take) in two marine reserves resulted in an increase in density and biomass of coral trout Plectropomus spp. in the period from 3–4 years before establishment to 12–13 years after and compared to fished areas, and higher densities and abundances of fishery targeted species, but not non-target species compared to fished areas 12–13 years after. At both no-take reserves, the average density and biomass of targeted coral trout Plectropomus spp. was higher (1999–2000, density: 7–17 fish/1,000 m2; biomass: 12–16 kg/1,000 m2) than in pre-protection (1983–1984, density: 2–3 fish/1,000 m2; biomass: 2 kg/1,000 m2) and fished areas (1999–2000, density: 3–5 fish/1,000 m2; biomass: 3 kg/1,000 m2), the latter two areas being similar. In 1999–2000, average coral density and biomass of a second targeted fish, stripy sea perch Lutjanus carponotatus was higher in both reserves than fished areas (density: 12–23 vs 7 fish/1,000 m2, biomass: 4–5 vs 2 kg/1,000 m2) but average density and biomass of non-target fish did not differ (density: 56–86 fish/1,000 m2, biomass: 7–17 kg/1,000 m2). Reef fish were surveyed by underwater visual census at two island group marine reserves in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (no fishing since 1987). In the period before protection, five replicate transects (50 × 20 m) were done in 1983 (one reserve only, 2 sites) and 1984 (both reserves, 2 sites each). In November 1999 to June 2000, no-take and fished zones at both reserves were surveyed by five replicate 50 × 6 m transects (9–12 transects/no-take and fished areas).

    (Summarised by: Khatija Alliji)

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