Sunday, April 26, 2015

Management vs MPAs - Paper!

Click for detail!
And I cite.
The reefs in Guam and Papua New Guinea are near collapse, with only 10% of the historical estimate of fish biomass present.
Although these declines seem dire, an equally important finding is that fisheries management works. This is a message of hope to those working in conservation.

Over the past decade, many have given up on fisheries management because it is perceived as being too difficult, expensive or beyond the capacity of academics and non-governmental organizations. Many instead turned to MPAs as a blanket solution to marine-conservation challenges.
But to be effective, MPAs need to be protected and enforced, which requires them to be large, old and isolated. Effective MPAs can halt declines, but the build-up of biomass to historical levels takes time. MacNeil and colleagues show that recovery takes at least 35 years, twice as long as previous estimates. Patience, persistence and continued financial investment will be essential to the success of the ocean’s increasing number of MPAs.

As MacNeil and colleagues recognize, MPAs are simply not an option in areas where people depend on fish from reefs.
Coral reefs lie in the waters of more than 100 developing countries, many of which have dense, rapidly growing coastal populations. Enforced MPAs might not be viable because of the burden of displacing fishers, the unknown effects of redistributing fishing and the time it takes for biomass to recover. But the authors show that those reefs that had some form of management, such as restrictions on fishing equipment, species or access, had 27% more fish biomass than reefs open to fishing. Even in depleted reef communities, regulations protecting key species can promote ecosystem resilience and recovery. For example, prohibiting specific equipment can allow herbivorous fishes to recover, promoting coral resilience.
Indeed - there is no silver bullet!
MPAs do work and are actually the better conservation tool.
But in the real world, they cannot always be implemented - and u got to monitor, manage and especially, enforce them, too, which is often even more difficult!
Or as the paper states,
The continuing degradation of the world’s coral reefs underscores the need for tangible solutions that promote recovery and enhance ecosystem functions.
Our results demonstrate that well-enforced marine reserves can support a full suite of reef fish functions given enough time to recover. However, for reefs where marine reserves cannot be implemented, we find that ecosystem functions can be enhanced through various forms of fisheries management. Addressing the coral reef crisis ultimately demands long-term, international action on global-scale issues such as ocean warming and acidification, factors that may diminish recovery potential by approx. 6% over the coming decades.  Despite these challenges, a range of fisheries management options is available to support reef resilience and it is likely that some combination of approaches will be necessary for success. Having benchmarks and timelines within an explicit biomass context, such as those provided here, increase the chances of agreeing on, and complying with, a mix of management strategies that will achieve conservation objectives while sustaining reef-based livelihoods.
And what about Fiji?
Fiji is just such a place where unilateral action is just simply impossible, and where any solution will have to be a compromise where all stakeholders feel that they get something, and nobody gets everything.
Hence my advocacy of both improved management and MPAs here.
Synopses here and here.

To be continued no doubt.
And that's a promise! :)

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