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Marine Parks And No-take Debate

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In regard to the No-Take debate and Marine Parks, here is an interesting summary from a US scientist research into it all. Although all this science should be read as "site specific" many comparisons and aspects are common. In referring this type of science to NSW where there are NO RECREATIONAL SPECIES UNDER THREAT OF EXTINCTION (even fisheries agree) Marine Parks with 'extreme green sought major sanctuaries' are more anti-fishing agendered and politically motivated

Scientist says MPAs offer no benefits

Study blasts no-take zones as poor fishery management tool; 98-percent of stocks studied showed no benefits

According to the chair of the marine sciences department at the University of Southern Alabama, the type of marine protected areas (MPAs) which allow no harvests of fish are virtually useless as a fishery management tool.

Dr. Robert Shipp says, in a report just released earlier this month, that out of more than 350 fish stocks he examined, the no-harvest zones offered no fishery management benefit in 98 percent of stocks studied. As a tool for fisheries management where the goal is maximum sustainable yield, he says, no-take MPAs are generally not as effective as traditional management measures such as the use of size limits, catch limits and seasons, and are not appropriate for the vast majority of marine species.

This is because, says the professor, most marine species are far too mobile and won't stay put in the no-take areas, and/or aren't over-fished in the first place. Out of the many fish species he examined, nearly all ranged over sizable distances considerably greater than any of the proposed no-harvest areas. And once outside of the restricted zones, he notes, they become available for being caught, so the benefits of the limited area vanish.

For those few species, which would benefit from a no-take area, he says, the creation of such a zone would have an adverse effect on the best management of co-existing species. And contrary to a widespread misperception about MPAs, Shipp discounts the fishery management benefits of the so-called "spill over" effect. "The number of fish that spill over from a reserve is always going to be less than that available from a well managed fishery," he charges. "It's wrong to say that commercial and recreational anglers are going to benefit by catching more, larger fish as a result of an MPA — because they won't."

In addition, Shipp's study states that many species don't require the kind of severe restrictions imposed by no-take MPAs. He says that according to the National Marine Fisheries Service, just eight percent of US fish stocks in the Exclusive Economic Zone are reported as being over-fished, and most of those are either primarily pelagic or highly mobile species, movement patterns which don't lend themselves to benefiting from MPAs.

"If a fish stock is well managed and healthy, then the need for a no-take MPA is nil," he is cited as saying. "In most cases, traditional measures are a much more effective method for managing a fishery, even an over-fished one." Many fisheries are restricted by rules and regulations that lay down minimum size requirements, strict catch limits and even seasonal closures.

Shipp concedes that MPAs may be useful tools in some instances, such as seasonal closures for particular fish species. Some congregate for a short time during spawning and during that time extra protection may make sense. He also notes that there are positive uses for MPAs other than as a management tool, such as protection of critical fish habitat, the study of ecosystem function and biodiversity, and the promotion of eco-tourism, and to help rebuild severely over-fished and unmanaged insular stocks. A statement from the American Sportfishing Association on the study recalls that Shipp chaired the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council when the council voted to declare part of the Tortugas sanctuary an MPA, a decision he reportedly actively supported.

Shipp says though that for management purposes, to close down a fishery for all species on a permanent basis is unnecessary. He particularly takes issue with the proposal to set aside a large segment of the Channel Islands, off Southern California.

"The suggestion that as much as 40 percent of the Channel Islands should be designated a permanent no-take MPA is totally without merit from a fisheries harvest perspective," he says. "Though it may have other aesthetic benefits, such as closure would severely reduce harvest potentials, shift effort to other areas, and likely have a substantial negative economic impact on both commercial and recreational fishing industries."

All in all, says Shipp, only a very small percentage of fish - which he puts at something less than two percent - would benefit from the creation of the no-take style of MPA. He reminds that some MPAs allow some fisheries and ban others, and says that even among the two percent or so of fish which would benefit from the full no-harvest areas, many species have come under management within the past 10 years through the use of more traditional fisheries management methods, and are experiencing recovery of stocks as a result.

Bob Smith

TFP :1fishing1:

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