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Comanagement Practices Enhance Fisheries in Marine Protected Areas

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Fishing activities worldwide have dramatically affected marine fish stocks and ecosystems. Marine protected areas (MPAs) with no-take zones may enhance fisheries, but empirical evidence of this is scant. We conducted a 4-year survey of fish catches around and within an MPA that was previously fully closed to fishing and then partially reopened under regulated comanaged fishing. In collaboration with the fishers and the MPA authority, we set the fishing effort and selected the gear to limit fishing impact on key fish predators, juvenile fish stage, and benthic communities and habitats. Within an adaptive comanagement framework, fishers agreed to reduce fishing effort if symptoms of overfishing were detected. We analyzed the temporal trends of catch per unit of effort (CPUE) of the whole species assemblages and CPUE of the four most valuable and frequent species observed inside the opened buffer zone and outside the MPA investigated. After the comanaged opening, CPUE first declined and then stabilized at levels more than twice that of catches obtained outside the MPA. Our results suggest that working closely with fishers can result in greater fisheries catches. Partial protection of coastal areas together with adaptive comanagement involving fishers, scientists, and managers can effectively achieve conservation and fishery management goals and benefit fishing communities and alleviate overfishing.
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Keywords: Mar Mediterráneo; Mediterranean Sea; análisis de series de tiempo; captura pesquera; coastal fisheries; eco sustainability; eco sustentabilidad; fishing catch; marine protected areas; marine reserves; pesquerías costeras; reservas marinas; time-series analysis; áreas marinas protegidas

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Laboratory of Zoology and Marine Biology, DiSTeBA, University of Salento, I-73100 Lecce, Italy

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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