Beyond marine reserves: exploring the approach of selecting areas where fishing is permitted, rather than prohibited
Background: Marine populations have been declining at a worrying rate, due in large part to fishing pressures. The challenge is to secure a future for marine life while minimizing impacts on fishers and fishing communities.
Methods and Principal Findings: Rather than selecting areas where fishing is banned – as is usually the case with spatial management – we assess the concept of designating areas where fishing is permitted. We use spatial catch statistics for thirteen commercial fisheries on Canada’s west coast to determine the minimum area that would be needed to maintain a pre-ascribed target percentage of current catches. We found that small reductions in fisheries yields, if strategically allocated, could result in large unfished areas that are representative of biophysical regions and habitat types, and have the potential to achieve remarkable conservation gains.
Conclusions: Our approach of selecting fishing areas instead of reserves could help redirect debate about the relative values that society places on conservation and extraction, in a framework that could gain much by losing little. Our ideas are intended to promote discussions about the current status quo in fisheries management, rather than providing a definitive solution.
Ban, N.C, and A.C.J Vincent. 2009. Beyond marine reserves: exploring the approach of selecting areas where fishing is permitted, rather than prohibited. PLoS ONE 4(7):e6258. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0006258