Rapid fauna recovery in Marine Reserves

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Rapid fauna recovery in Marine Reserves
From: Laurie&Leanne Knight <>
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 2002 17:57:06 +1000
Perhaps this item from south of the 49thN parallel will help sort out some of
the politics south of the 40th? parallel in our part of the world regarding the
establishment of marine parks.  [The evidence in this and other recent studies
suggest that marine parks can enhance the long term economic viability of
fisheries, but the industry seems to concentrate on the very short term in its 


UCSB News Release 


Gail Gallesich Brown


Joan Magruder



 (Santa Barbara, Calif.) -- Marine animals show an unexpectedly rapid and
prolonged positive response to protection inside marine reserves, according to
scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
 Their findings will be published in the May issue of the journal Ecology 

 Reserves are defined as no-take zones where it is illegal to extract organisms
in any way. "The exciting result is that once you put a reserve into place, in
one to three years there is a dramatic response by the species in the reserve to
that protection," said Ben Halpern, co-author and graduate student in biology at
UC Santa Barbara. Halpern wrote the paper with Robert Warner, professor of
biology at UCSB.

 "People who are contemplating establishing a reserve can know they will see
results in a short time," said Halpern. "From a political and social
perspective, this is very good news."

 The researchers reviewed 112 independent measurements of 80 reserves to show
that the higher average values of density, biomass, average organism size and
diversity inside reserves (relative to control groups) reach much higher levels
within a short period of time, usually one to three years. The values are
consistent across reserves of all ages, up to 40 years. 

 "Therefore biological responses inside marine reserves appear to develop
quickly and last through time," stated the authors.

 Halpern explained that the response is not only quick, but lasts for decades.
"It's great from a management, political and conservation approach to know that
these changes will last through time," he said. "While reserves remove some
areas from fishing pressure, the premise is that increased production inside
reserves will eventually benefit consumers outside reserve boundaries. We now
can say with increased confidence that 'eventually' is a relatively short period
of time."

 The oldest reserves included in the study are one that is 40 years old, just
off the coast of Vancouver, British Columbia, and a 39-year-old reserve in Exuma
Sound in the Bahamas.

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