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Marine Reserves: Conservation Improves Commerce
Smallmouth grunts like these are a mainstay of St. Lucia's reef fishery.
Photo: Callum Roberts U. of York and Harvard U.
Marine reserves boost fishing yields in neighboring waters, indicating a positive link between conservation and commerce, according to a study in the 30 November 2001 issue of the journal Science.
Though the reserves protect different marine habitats, each caused a noticeable increase in biomass, quantity and size of nearby commercial fish harvests, providing the first clear evidence that marine reserves provide consistent benefits for adjacent fishing grounds. Callum Roberts and colleagues survey Caribbean fishing zones and marine reserves and find conservation benefits extend beyond local, protected populations, into the commercial sector. The report suggests that marine reserves can aid in the creation of sustainable populations of commercially important fish species in non-reserve areas where fishing levels are stable.
The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Cape Canaveral, Florida protects estuarine habitats and benefits highly mobile and sport-fishing species. The waters adjoining this reserve produce a disproportionate number of record-breaking sport fish. The Soufrière Marine Management Area off the island of St. Lucia protects coral reefs and sedentary fish that inhabit them, and fish catches in their adjacent waters increased within five years by 46 and 90 percent.
-- Daniel Kane