There has always been controversy surrounding “no-take” reserves, with some conservationists saying it’s the only way to protect valued areas of the ocean and some fishers saying that it’s simply unnecessary.
Now, a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says that both recreational and commercial anglers are benefiting from “no-take” areas in the Tortugas Ecological Reserve, a 151 square nautical mile area within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
The report is the first to evaluate how the “no-take” area is affecting the living marine resources of the region as well the people who depend on those marine resources. To assess the economic effects of the closure, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries partnered with the University of Massachusetts to analyze catch landings and revenue from commercial fishers. They also surveyed local recreational fishing guides before and for five years after the closure.
Since the reserve was designated in 2001, they found that:
- The presence and abundance of previously overfished species, including black and red grouper, yellowtail and mutton snapper, has increased both inside the Reserve and in the surrounding region
- Commercial catches of reef fish increased in the region
- Commercial and recreational fishers experienced no financial losses
“This research shows that marine reserves and economically viable fishing industries can coexist,” said Sean Morton, sanctuary superintendent. “The health of our economy is tied to the health of our oceans. They are not mutually exclusive.”
To learn more:
- Read the full article from NOAA: Tortugas marine reserve yields more, larger fish
- Read the full report: An Integrated Biogeographic Assessment of Reef Fish Populations and Fisheries in Dry Tortugas: Effects of No-take Reserves
- Check out this Q&A: No-take Marine Reserve Basics
- Check out this article: Everything You Need to Know About Marine Protected Areas
Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.