|Long live Marine Reserves: A review of experiences and benefits|In: Biological Conservation. Elsevier: Barking. ISSN 0006-3207, more
Ecology; Fisheries; Marine reserves; Marine
Marine Protected Areas: Ecosystem based management; Species conservation; Socio-economics; Climate change; Experimental controls
This paper reviews the socio-economic, ecological, and conservation experiences during the establishment of Marine Reserves (no-take Marine Protected Areas (MPA)) in New Zealand in an international context. Once operational, reserves became popular with the public and provided economic benefits. In one reserve, ‘spill-over’ of lobsters counter-balanced lost fishing. The reserves provided the control sites that showed the effects of fishing on ecosystems through depleted populations and habitat change due to trophic cascades. Studies in other countries indicated that these trophic cascades were common globally. Research showed reserves protect benthic and pelagic species, including those that move outside the reserves. These findings benefited from reserves having a map of seabed habitats and data on the relative abundance of species of ecological importance. Information on other species (e.g. macro-invertebrates), and previous and nearby fishing effort over time, may have provided additional insights.Marine Reserves can provide benefits to (1) conservation of species and habitats, (2) science as controls for fishing effects, and (3) fisheries as reference sites that conserve natural genetic and population structure, host brood-stock, and provide spill-over to nearby fisheries. They should be distributed geographically in networks that include replicated examples of habitats and species. To do so, they need to be suitably located, large enough, and enforced to fulfil these opportunities. However, these benefits remain limited by the relatively small area occupied by Marine Reserves within and between countries.