Weak compliance undermines the success of no-take zones in a large government-controlled marine protected area.
ABSTRACT: The effectiveness of marine protected areas depends largely on whether people comply with the rules. We quantified temporal changes in benthic composition, reef fish biomass, and fishing effort among marine park zones (including no-take areas) to assess levels of compliance following the 2005 rezoning of the government-controlled Karimunjawa National Park (KNP), Indonesia. Four years after the rezoning awareness of fishing regulations was high amongst local fishers, ranging from 79.5±7.9 (SE) % for spatial restrictions to 97.7±1.2% for bans on the use of poisons. Despite this high awareness and strong compliance with gear restrictions, compliance with spatial restrictions was weak. In the four years following the rezoning reef fish biomass declined across all zones within KNP, with >50% reduction within the no-take Core and Protection Zones. These declines were primarily driven by decreases in the biomass of groups targeted by local fishers; planktivores, herbivores, piscivores, and invertivores. These declines in fish biomass were not driven by changes in habitat quality; coral cover increased in all zones, possibly as a result of a shift in fishing gears from those which can damage reefs (i.e., nets) to those which cause little direct damage (i.e., handlines and spears). Direct observations of fishing activities in 2009 revealed there was limited variation in fishing effort between zones in which fishing was allowed or prohibited. The apparent willingness of the KNP communities to comply with gear restrictions, but not spatial restrictions is difficult to explain and highlights the complexities of the social and economic dynamics that influence the ecological success of marine protected areas. Clearly the increased and high awareness of fishery restrictions following the rezoning is a positive step. The challenge now is to understand and foster the conditions that may facilitate compliance with spatial restrictions within KNP and marine parks worldwide.
Project description:Artisanal fisheries are a key source of food and income for millions of people, but if poorly managed, fishing can have declining returns as well as impacts on biodiversity. Management interventions such as spatial and temporal closures can improve fishery sustainability and reduce environmental degradation, but may carry substantial short-term costs for fishers. The Lake Alaotra wetland in Madagascar supports a commercially important artisanal fishery and provides habitat for a Critically Endangered primate and other endemic wildlife of conservation importance. Using detailed data from more than 1,600 fisher catches, we used linear mixed effects models to explore and quantify relationships between catch weight, effort, and spatial and temporal restrictions to identify drivers of fisher behaviour and quantify the potential effect of fishing restrictions on catch. We found that restricted area interventions and fishery closures would generate direct short-term costs through reduced catch and income, and these costs vary between groups of fishers using different gear. Our results show that conservation interventions can have uneven impacts on local people with different fishing strategies. This information can be used to formulate management strategies that minimise the adverse impacts of interventions, increase local support and compliance, and therefore maximise conservation effectiveness.
Project description:Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been widely proposed as a fisheries management tool in addition to their conservation purposes. Despite this, few studies have satisfactorily assessed the dynamics of fishers' adaptations to the loss of fishing grounds. Here we used data from before, during and after the implementation of the management plan of a temperate Atlantic multiple-use MPA to examine the factors affecting the spatial and temporal distribution of different gears used by the artisanal fishing fleet. The position of vessels and gear types were obtained by visual surveys and related to spatial features of the marine park. A hotspot analysis was conducted to identify heavily utilized patches for each fishing gear and time period. The contribution of individual vessels to each significant cluster was assessed to better understand fishers' choices. Different fisheries responded differently to the implementation of protection measures, with preferred habitats of target species driving much of the fishers' choices. Within each fishery, individual fishers showed distinct strategies with some operating in a broader area whereas others kept preferred territories. Our findings are based on reliable methods that can easily be applied in coastal multipurpose MPAs to monitor and assess fisheries and fishers responses to different management rules and protection levels. This paper is the first in-depth empirical study where fishers' choices from artisanal fisheries were analysed before, during and after the implementation of a MPA, thereby allowing a clearer understanding of the dynamics of local fisheries and providing significant lessons for marine conservation and management of coastal systems.
Project description:Understanding how fishers make decisions is important for improving management of fisheries. There is debate about the extent to which small-scale fishers follow an ideal free distribution (IFD) - distributing their fishing effort efficiently according to resource availability rather than being influenced by social factors or personal preference. Using detailed data from 1800 fisher catches and from semi-structured interviews with over 700 fishers at Lake Alaotra, the largest inland fishery in Madagascar, we show that fishers generally conform to IFD. However, there were differences in catch: effort relationships between fishers using different gear types as well as other revealing deviations from the predictions of IFD. Fishers report routine as the primary determinant of their choice of fishing location, explaining why they do not quickly respond to changes in catch at a site. Understanding the influences on fishers' spatial behaviour will allow better estimates of costs of fishing policies on resource users, and help predict their likely responses. This can inform management strategies to minimise the negative impacts of interventions, increasing local support for and compliance with rules.
Project description:The coral reefs of Tanga, Tanzania were recognized as a national conservation priority in the early 1970s, but the lack of a management response led to damage by dynamite, beach seines, and high numbers of fishers until the mid 1990s. Subsequently, an Irish Aid funded IUCN Eastern Africa program operated from 1994 to mid 2007 to implement increased management aimed at reducing these impacts. The main effects of this management were to establish collaborative management areas, reduce dynamite and seine net fishing, and establish small community fisheries closures beginning in 1996. The ecology of the coral reefs was studied just prior to the initiation of this management in 1996, during, 2004, and a few years after the project ended in 2010. The perceptions of resource users towards management options were evaluated in 2010. The ecological studies indicated that the biomass of fish rose continuously during this period from 260 to 770 kg/ha but the small closures were no different from the non-closure areas. The benthic community studies indicate stability in the coral cover and community composition and an increase in coralline algae and topographic complexity over time. The lack of change in the coral community suggests resilience to various disturbances including fisheries management and the warm temperature anomaly of 1998. These results indicate that some aspects of the management program had been ecologically successful even after the donor program ended. Moreover, the increased compliance with seine net use and dynamite restrictions were the most likely factors causing this increase in fish biomass and not the closures. Resource users interviewed in 2010 were supportive of gear restrictions but there was considerable between-community disagreement over the value of specific restrictions. The social-ecological results suggest that increased compliance with gear restrictions is largely responsible for the improvements in reef ecology and is a high priority for future management programs.
Project description:Locally sustainable resource extraction activities, at times, transform into ecologically detrimental enterprises. Understanding such transitions is a primary challenge for conservation and management of many ecosystems. In marine systems, over-exploitation of small-scale fisheries creates problems such as reduced biodiversity and lower catches. However, long-term documentation of how governance and associated changes in fishing gears may have contributed to such declines is often lacking. Using fisher interviews, we characterized fishing gear dynamics over 60 years (1950-2010) in a coral reef ecosystem in the Philippines subject to changing fishing regulations. In aggregate fishers greatly diversified their use of fishing gears. However, most individual fishers used one or two gears at a time (mean number of fishing gears < 2 in all years). Individual fishing effort (days per year) was fairly steady over the study period, but cumulative fishing effort by all fishers increased 240%. In particular, we document large increases in total effort by fishers using nets and diving. Other fishing gears experienced less pronounced changes in total effort over time. Fishing intensified through escalating use of non-selective, active, and destructive fishing gears. We also found that policies promoting higher production over sustainability influenced the use of fishing gears, with changes in gear use persisting decades after those same policies were stopped. Our quantitative evidence shows dynamic changes in fishing gear use over time and indicates that gears used in contemporary small-scale fisheries impact oceans more than those used in earlier decades.
Project description:There are numerous examples of no-take marine reserves effectively conserving fish stocks within their boundaries. However, no-take reserves can be rendered ineffective and turned into 'paper parks' through poor compliance and weak enforcement of reserve regulations. Long-term monitoring is thus essential to assess the effectiveness of marine reserves in meeting conservation and management objectives. This study documents the present state of the 15-year old no-take zone (NTZ) of South El Ghargana within the Nabq Managed Resource Protected Area, South Sinai, Egyptian Red Sea. Previous studies credited willing compliance by the local fishing community for the increased abundances of targeted fish within the designated NTZ boundaries compared to adjacent fished or take-zones. We compared benthic habitat and fish abundance within the NTZ and the adjacent take sites open to fishing, but found no significant effect of the reserve. Instead, the strongest evidence was for a simple negative relationship between fishing pressure and distance from the closest fishing village. The abundance of targeted piscivorous fish increased significantly with increasing distance from the village, while herbivorous fish showed the opposite trend. This gradient was supported by a corresponding negative correlation between the amount of discarded fishing gear observed on the reef and increasing distance from the village. Discarded fishing gear within the NTZ suggested decreased compliance with the no-take regulations. Our findings indicate that due to non-compliance the no-take reserve is no longer functioning effectively, despite its apparent initial successes and instead a gradient of fishing pressure exists with distance from the nearest fishing community.
Project description:The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) is the largest network of marine reserves in the world, yet little is known of the efficacy of no-fishing zones in the relatively lightly-exploited remote parts of the system (i.e., northern regions). Here, we find that the detection of reserve effects is challenging and that heterogeneity in benthic habitat composition, specifically branching coral cover, is one of the strongest driving forces of fish assemblages. As expected, the biomass of targeted fish species was generally greater (up to 5-fold) in no-take zones than in fished zones, but we found no differences between the two forms of no-take zone: 'no-take' versus 'no-entry'. Strong effects of zoning were detected in the remote Far-North inshore reefs and more central outer reefs, but surprisingly fishing effects were absent in the less remote southern locations. Moreover, the biomass of highly targeted species was nearly 2-fold greater in fished areas of the Far-North than in any reserve (no-take or no-entry) further south. Despite high spatial variability in fish biomass, our results suggest that fishing pressure is greater in southern areas and that poaching within reserves may be common. Our results also suggest that fishers 'fish the line' as stock sizes in exploited areas decreased near larger no-take zones. Interestingly, an analysis of zoning effects on small, non-targeted fishes appeared to suggest a top-down effect from mesopredators, but was instead explained by variability in benthic composition. Thus, we demonstrate the importance of including appropriate covariates when testing for evidence of trophic cascades and reserve successes or failures.
Project description:We worked with artisanal fisherfolk along the Coromandel coast in two districts of Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Pondicherry in South India to map and quantify catch, gear and crew details for all fishing craft along 120 km. Spatially explicit fisheries data were collected to understand the distribution of fishing effort and to identify high pressure fishing zones. Approximately 7,945 square kilometres of fishing grounds were surveyed and 3,427 fishing trips were observed using nine GPS enabled echo-sounders operated by fishermen. Data were visualised and non parametric statistical analysis revealed distinct patterns in fishing effort, high density fishing zones and large overlaps in zones between traditional, motorised and mechanised craft. Existing marine fishing regulations for the respective regions were also evaluated and violations were mapped. Results were presented in each of the villages and then in district wide meetings with community leaders to spur discussions on resource based conflicts and fisheries management. Our findings suggest that the present trajectory of resource over-exploitation, the use of destructive fishing methods combined with the lack of compliance to current regulations will lead to a collapse of the small scale fishing industry and further intensify conflicts within the community. Recommendations made by fishing community leaders are presented and their role in local fisheries management is discussed. This study is the first of its kind for this region and can easily be replicated at regional scales to develop a better understanding of the spatial extent and nature of small scale fisheries, including conflict, for the purpose of fisheries management.
Project description:Spatial management tools, such as marine spatial planning and marine protected areas, are playing an increasingly important role in attempts to improve marine management and accommodate conflicting needs. Robust data are needed to inform decisions among different planning options, and early inclusion of stakeholder involvement is widely regarded as vital for success. One of the biggest stakeholder groups, and the most likely to be adversely impacted by spatial restrictions, is the fishing community. In order to take their priorities into account, planners need to understand spatial variation in their perceived value of the sea. Here a readily accessible, novel method for quantitatively mapping fishers' spatial access priorities is presented. Spatial access priority mapping, or SAPM, uses only basic functions of standard spreadsheet and GIS software. Unlike the use of remote-sensing data, SAPM actively engages fishers in participatory mapping, documenting rather than inferring their priorities. By so doing, SAPM also facilitates the gathering of other useful data, such as local ecological knowledge. The method was tested and validated in Northern Ireland, where over 100 fishers participated in a semi-structured questionnaire and mapping exercise. The response rate was excellent, 97%, demonstrating fishers' willingness to be involved. The resultant maps are easily accessible and instantly informative, providing a very clear visual indication of which areas are most important for the fishers. The maps also provide quantitative data, which can be used to analyse the relative impact of different management options on the fishing industry and can be incorporated into planning software, such as MARXAN, to ensure that conservation goals can be met at minimum negative impact to the industry. This research shows how spatial access priority mapping can facilitate the early engagement of fishers and the ready incorporation of their priorities into the decision-making process in a transparent, quantitative way.
Project description:Human beings are the dominant top predator in the marine ecosystem. Throughout most of the global ocean this predation is carried out by industrial fishing vessels, that can now be observed in unprecedented detail via satellite monitoring of Automatic Identification System (AIS) messages. The spatial and temporal distribution of this fishing effort emerges from the coupled interaction of ecological and socio-economic drivers and can therefore yield insights on the dynamics of both the ecosystem and fishers. Here we analyze temporal variability of industrial fishing effort from 2015-2017 as recorded by global AIS coverage, and differentiated by fishing gear type. The strongest seasonal signal is a reduction of total deployed effort during the annual fishing moratorium on the numerically-dominant Chinese fleet, which occurs during boreal summer. An additional societally-controlled reduction of effort occurs during boreal winter holidays. After accounting for these societal controls, the total deployed effort is relatively invariant throughout the year for all gear types except squid jiggers and coastal purse seiners. Despite constant deployment levels, strong seasonal variability occurs in the spatial pattern of fishing effort for gears targeting motile pelagic species, including purse seiners, squid jiggers and longliners. Trawlers and fixed gears target bottom-associated coastal prey and show very little overall seasonality, although they exhibit more seasonal variation at locations that are further from port. Our results suggest that societal controls dominate the total deployment of fishing effort, while the behavior of pelagic fish, including seasonal migration and aggregation, is likely the most prominent driver of the spatial seasonal variations in global fishing effort.