[Coral-List] Re: environmental/ecological disadvantages of marine reserves

Mark Tupper mtupper at guam.uog.edu
Wed Aug 13 20:40:52 EDT 2003

Dear Subhasni and list,

I think your question needs to put into context, i.e. disadvantages of 
marine reserves compared to what?  I can't really see that creating a 
marine reserve could be disadvantageous to the environment.  Of course, 
I am assuming you mean a "fully protected marine reserve" rather than a 
marine park which allows for heavy tourist use.  There are examples of 
marine "protected" areas or marine parks that have been heavily damaged 
by overuse - in some cases to the point that they are in worse shape 
than surrounding unprotected reefs.

One potential disadvantage we see in Guam is concentration of fishing 
effort into specific areas outside the marine reserves.  The fish 
biomass in these areas is being severely depleted.  Of course, the 
question is whether or not this depletion is compensated by higher 
production within the reserves.  So far the increase in biomass within 
the reserves is greater than the decrease in fished areas.  A related 
problem that can be caused by effort concentraion is an increase in 
marine debris in heavily fished areas, particularly lost fishing gear 
and general garbage.

Another possibility that comes to mind is if a marine reserve were 
created in lieu of some other mitigation effort that might be more 
appropriate to the situation.  For example, if a reef is primarily 
impacted by sedimentation from upland sources, then improving land use 
practises and/or mangrove replanting might be a better use of limited 
funds than creating a marine reserve.  Even in that case, the creation 
of the reserve per se is not a disadvantage, but the failure to choose 
the most appropriate management tool is.


Mark Tupper

"Subhashni Appana"  wrote:
I have heaps of publications which talks about the advantages of marine 
reserves; however I feel there would be environmental/ecological 
disadvantages to it as well.

Could you please help me find a few.

Dr. Mark H Tupper, Assistant Professor
University of Guam Marine Laboratory
UOG Station, Mangilao, Guam 96923
tel. 671-735-2185; fax 671-734-6767

Coordinator, Marine Protected Areas Research Group

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