Marine Reserves: An Alternative to Traditional Management


Marine reserves have been proposed as a remedy for overfishing and declining marine biodiversity. But putting marine reserves in place has been resisted because of concerns that they would reduce fishery harvests. In a recent paper in Science magazine, Alan Hastings and Louis Botsford show that managing fisheries by setting aside reserves where no fishing is allowed can produce the same harvest as traditional effort control management strategies1. In fact for populations in which adults don’t move around, such as reef fishes and clams and mussels, reserves can provide the same yield as traditional management while protecting biodiversity and reducing the variability of populations.

This important theoretical paper shows that marine reserves are a reasonable alternative to effort control. The burden of proof has been shifted: those who argue against marine reserves should have to demonstrate the effectiveness of their management strategies or allow marine reserves to be used as part of the management effort. We spoke with Alan Hastings about the results and implications of this paper.

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