February 23, 2010
Fishing Bans Protect Coral Reefs

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is benefiting from marine reserve areas.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is showing an extraordinary range of benefits from the network of protected marine reserves introduced there five years ago, according to a comprehensive new study published in the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences.

The scientific team, a ‘who’s-who’ of Australian coral reef scientists, describe the findings as “a globally significant demonstration of the effectiveness of large-scale networks of marine reserves”.

“Our data show rapid increases of fish inside no-take reserves, in both reef and non-reef habitats ,” says Professor Terry Hughes, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, speaking today at the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences meeting in San Diego, California.

“Critically, the reserves also benefit overall ecosystem health and resilience”, says lead author Dr Laurence McCook of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

“Outbreaks of coral-eating, crown-of-thorns starfish are less frequent on no-take reefs, which consequently have a higher abundance of healthy corals after outbreaks.”

I'd like to see a lot more fishing bans to give heavily depleted areas a chance to recover. Humanity is overfishing the oceans and the result is declining catches in many areas.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 February 23 10:51 PM  Trends Bio Resource Usage

Neil S said at February 24, 2010 7:00 AM:

And let's not forget the single largest Marine Reserve in the world, created as a National Monument to circumvent Congressional obstruction.


David A. Young said at February 24, 2010 9:46 AM:

This is the inevitable "Tragedy of the Commons" problem that occurs when no one owns rights to a resource. When there is no way to "protect" one's access to a resource, the alternative logic is to take as much as you can before someone else gets it. That leaves governmental regulation to control such common resources, but unfortunately bureaucracies are better at writing regulations than enforcing them -- especially in this type of situation. The seas are big places.

This is especially true when not all national governments are equally committed to the endeavour.

At one time I had hoped "fish farming" would ssignificantly help with this, but as long as they keep feeding the "farm" fish with "feed fish" they catch from the sea -- it seems like that'll be a non-helpful solution.

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