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Targeted education reduces marine protected area boundary encroachments: a case study from the Florida Keys

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Compliance with marine protected area (MPA) regulations is considered a primary determinant of MPA success, though few studies have directly quantified this. The Florida Keys (USA) contain several types of MPAs that are managed by multiple state and federal agencies. The present study evaluated the use of lobster traps, relative to control areas, in two types of MPAs that protect coral reef habitat and prohibit lobster trap fishing: MPAs with marked boundaries vs MPAs with unmarked boundaries. The number of traps, trap owners, and trap location coordinates were recorded in replicate MPAs before and after an educational outreach effort to promote better recognition of trap fishing regulations in MPAs. The mean density of traps (number of traps km–2) was greatest in unmarked MPAs during both pre- [40.5 (SE 7.1) traps] and posteducation [23.9 (SE 4.5) traps] surveys; however, the reduction in trap density was not significant. Traps observed in unmarked MPAs were typically distributed throughout each area. In contrast, the density of traps in marked MPAs pre- [5.4 (SE 1.47) traps] and posteducation [1.3 (SE 0.6) traps] was significantly different, and traps were mostly concentrated near MPA boundaries. The density of trap owners posteducation was reduced in both marked and unmarked MPAs; however, the reduction was only significant in marked MPAs [2.1 (SE 0.5) to 0.6 (SE 0.3)]. The results of the this research highlight the critical roles of communication and fisher behavior in the management of MPA compliance and performance.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, South Florida Regional Laboratory, 2796 Overseas Hwy, Suite 119, Marathon, Florida 33050;, Email: [email protected] 2: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, South Florida Regional Laboratory, 2796 Overseas Hwy, Suite 119, Marathon, Florida 33050

Publication date: 01 July 2018

This article was made available online on 21 May 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "Targeted education reduces marine protected area boundary encroachments: a case study from the Florida Keys".

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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