[Coral-List] more articles
douglasfennertassi at gmail.com
Tue Feb 24 03:54:53 EST 2015
I think we should also be aware that the Fletcher et al. paper does not
demonstrate that MPAs (Marine Protected Areas) will cost fishermen catches
and profits on most of the world's coral reefs. It applies to well managed
fisheries but most coral reefs do not have well managed fisheries. I
present supporting arguments in the rest of this rather long post;
apologies, read it only if interested.
I agree with Magnus that "Marine Protected Areas" usually only imply
protection from fishing, and without protection from other things they can
be in great danger. Calling them "Marine Protected Areas" could even be
argued to be misleading, since they often aren't protected from many
things. Maybe they should be called "Marine Partially Protected Areas" or
"Marine Areas Protected from Fishing." Mind you, some have a "ridge to
reef" idea that implies much more protection, and three cheers for those
working hard to provide reefs with other kinds of protection as well.
However, no one has yet come up with a practical way to protect reefs
locally from global warming or acidification, as far as I know. Protecting
reefs is not easy by a long shot.
The Fletcher article demonstrates that the closing of large areas on
the GBR (Great Barrier Reef) to fishing has reduced catch and thus reduced
fishing incomes more than expected. I think that the publication of this
information is a valuable contribution. Governments as well as citizens
need to know all the costs of government actions, as well as benefits, as
accurately as possible. All the cards need to be on the table, and
everybody needs to be able to see them. That said, decisions also need to
be made based on weighing both costs and benefits. This paper adds to the
knowledge of costs, and that is good. But it does not survey the benefits,
that's not a criticism of the paper, that was not the goal of the paper.
But that has to be a goal of both governments and the citizenry in making
One could come away thinking that no-take MPAs cost fishermen catches
and incomes, so we shouldn't implement MPAs on coral reefs. I think that
does not follow from the study, primarily because the GBR is very unusual
for coral reefs. The GBR is in a developed country, with all the economic
and expertise resources that implies, and is said by the article to have
well managed fisheries. However, the vast majority of the world's coral
reefs are not in developed countries, and are widely acknowledged not to
have well managed fisheries. Instead, many are widely thought to have
overfished reefs. Coral reef fisheries have the most species taken of any
fishery, and most are in countries with no spare money to manage them, some
with incredibly long coastlines and huge numbers of fishers to manage, a
near-impossible task for anyone. The article states that their results
show that in areas of well managed fisheries, closing MPAs to fisheries can
reduce fish catches instead of enhance them as often is said to happen.
That's the key, "well managed fisheries." For the majority of the world's
coral reefs, the fisheries cannot be managed well, and so this study does
not show that no-take areas cause loss of fish catch and income on most
coral reefs. It does not apply to most coral reefs.
No-take areas are difficult to implement precisely because of the
assumption (by fishermen) that they will cost fishermen, an assumption that
appears reasonable, restrict fishing and it can be expected to cost
fishermen. Often MPAs are declared by governments without any
implementation or enforcement, and so neither cost fishermen nor produce
fish catch increases or conservation. Because they can't be imposed
without community support and be effective, they are rarely planned based
on science, and are usually tiny. In spite of that, some have been
demonstrated to produce large increases in fish populations within the
reserve. It is much more difficult to prove enhancement of actual fish
catches outside of reserves. However, in some cases fishermen come to be
convinced that their fish catches have improved.
In any case, MPAs are generally not adopted because they are
wonderful fisheries enhancement tools. Rather, they are adopted because
they are good conservation tools (though only addressing fishing unless
other provisions are explicitly added such as reducing sediment and
nutrient runoff, etc.; needless to say other threats MUST be addressed or
reefs will be lost), and because there are so few other fisheries
management tools that have been shown to work well in impoverished
communities that depend heavily on coral reef fish catch for survival.
Even in developed countries, coral reef fish can be overfished. The
only stock assessments I know of for coral reef fish have been done by
Jerry Ault and his team in two areas of Florida and one of Puerto Rico, and
all three show many species of fish are overfished there.
MPAs in temperate areas in developed countries are a whole different
matter. But even there, most small fisheries have not had a stock
assessment. So managers don't really know if the fish are well managed or
not. They don't know if they are overfished or not, and don't have much
prospect of finding out, because stock assessments are so expensive and
require so much expertise and biological data that they are only
economically justified if used on large fisheries where a lot of income is
generated. So what is a manager to do? Use weaker assessment tools such
as trends in catch per unit effort (CPUE) even though there are greater
risks of thinking things are fine when they aren't? Take precautionary
action that will make sure that the fishery cannot be completely fished out
but may cost fishermen some of their catch? Or just hope for the best?
There appears to be no simple, inexpensive, safe way out of this quandary.
No stock assessment is perfect, either, there are assumptions in the models
that often can't be checked. Ask Canada whether they had some of the best
fisheries science in the world for their east coast cod fishery, and ask
them how much it cost them when it collapsed (about $2 billion a year every
year since then and it continues decades later). There are risks and costs
for decisions as well as potential benefits. It is good to know more about
any of the risks, costs and benefits, so this paper is a valuable
contribution in my view.
But I don't think it applies to most coral reefs.
Fenner, D. 2012. Challenges for managing fisheries on diverse coral
reefs. Diversity 4(1): 105-160.
Fenner, D. 2014. Fishing down the largest coral reef fish species.
Marine Pollution Bulletin. 84: 9-16.
On Sat, Feb 14, 2015 at 8:27 AM, <tomascik at novuscom.net> wrote:
> With regards to the history of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, reading
> section "2A Objects of this Act" in the "Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act
> 1975" is illuminating.
> Quoting Douglas Fenner <douglasfennertassi at gmail.com>:
>> I agree that it is easy to forget these things. Indeed, the term
>> really only refers in most instances to a fisheries closure, and there are
>> a myriad of other things that damage reefs, like sediment, nutrients,
>> global warming, acidification, the list is long and nearly endless. I
>> saw an article entitled something like "MPA's are not a panacea." Indeed
>> they are not, they are just one tool in a toolbox. If I remember, the GBR
>> marine park was originally set up to protect the reefs from oil drilling
>> and mining limestone, or some such, and did not include no-take areas.
>> Some of the big impacts to the GBR if I remember are crown-of-thorns,
>> sediment, nutrients, and cyclones. The line fishery for coral cod is
>> probably one of the smaller impacts. The shrimp trawling is likely very
>> damaging to gorgonian and sponge communities between the reefs on sandy
>> bottoms. Shrimp trawling has one of the highest ratios of bycatch I know
>> of, most of what comes up in the net is not shrimp. I'm not up on current
>> equipment, "turtle exclusion devices" were very successful at excluding
>> turtles, I don't know if they can exclude other bycatch. But the problem
>> is that trawls are dragged along the bottom and destroy most of what is in
>> their path, and these sandy areas where the shrimp live have quite a bit
>> life. They don't trawl where there are coral reefs, reefs would rip the
>> trawls up. But GBRMPA made the decision that they wanted to protect
>> representative samples of all the different habitats in the park. They
>> took copious input from the public including fishers, huge numbers of
>> comments, and chose areas to minimize problems for fishers. That's my
>> understanding, and I haven't been watching it closely so I may be behind
>> the curve.
>> Cheers, Doug
>> On Mon, Feb 9, 2015 at 2:35 AM, Magnus Johnson <m.johnson at hull.ac.uk>
>> Thanks for posting these Doug,
>>> One of the issues, which is a general one in fisheries, is that stronger
>>> "protection" for the GBR ("protection" because MPAs don't do anything to
>>> protect reefs from mine waste, agricultural run off etc) doesn't stop
>>> people eating fish and if you can't buy local fish you import from areas
>>> where protection is less stringent, damaging their habitats rather than
>>> your own. I think one of the justifications for the expansion of the GBR
>>> was that it would enhance fisheries
>>> "The actual commercial fishery catch data from the GBR region show that
>>> a result of the RAP closures, there was an initial reduction in
>>> catches of approximately 26% (only slightly less than the extra 28.4% of
>>> the area that was closed) and that catch data for 7 years after the
>>> showed no evidence of a recovery (Fletcher et al., in press). Clearly,
>>> scientific advice to governments by BRS, and as interpreted in the RIS,
>>> that was to the fore in justifying increased fishing closures,
>>> over-optimistically projected the outcome from the closures."
>>> Kearney B, Farebrother G (2014) Inadequate Evaluation and Management of
>>> Threats in Australia's Marine Parks , Including the Great Barrier Reef ,
>>> Misdirect Marine Conservation. Adv Mar Biol 69:252-280
>>> Cheers, Magnus
>>> http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-29705818 (article about coal
>>> exports from Australia)
>>> (article from 2006 which points out that Australia is importing most of
>>> seafood despite having a huge EEZ)
>>> another popular article:
>>> Cautionary fish tale from Australia's Great Barrier Reef marine reserve.
>>> It contains a link to the original article, which is not open-access, but
>>> the abstract is open-access. The web page gives the email address of the
>>> first author.
>>> original article:
>>> Fletcher, et al. 2015. Large-scale expansion of no-take closures within
>>> the Great Barrier Reef has not enhanced fishery production. Ecological
>>> (My understanding is that the expansion of no-take areas in the GBR was
>>> not done to try to enhance fishery production, but rather for
>>> purposes. Further, the income to Australia from tourism to the GBR is
>>> larger than income from fisheries on the GBR. The article reports that
>>> loss of fishery income which the closure produced was more than expected.
>>> If I got it right, Australia pays compensation to fishers that lost
>>> income. The larger loss of fishery income is thought to be because the
>>> fish and prawns were not overfished before closure.)
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>> Douglas Fenner
>> Contractor with Ocean Associates, Inc.
>> PO Box 7390
>> Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799 USA
>> phone 1 684 622-7084
>> "belief in climate change is optional, participation is not."
>> belief in evolution is optional, use of antibiotics that bacteria have not
>> evolved resistance to is recommended.
>> In the past, putting fluoride in the city water was said by some to be a
>> communist plot, but today it is in most city water and helps reduce the
>> number of tooth cavities.
>> A survey of the U.S. public and scientists found that 86% of scientists
>> children should get immunized, while 68% of the public agrees. 87% of
>> scientists say humans are the primary cause of global warming, but just
>> of the public agrees. 98% of scientists say humans have evolved, but only
>> 65% of the public agrees.
>> website: http://independent.academia.edu/DouglasFenner
>> blog: http://ocean.si.edu/blog/reefs-american-samoa-story-hope
>> Coral-List mailing list
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Contractor with Ocean Associates, Inc.
PO Box 7390
Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799 USA
phone 1 684 622-7084
"belief in climate change is optional, participation is not."
belief in evolution is optional, use of antibiotics that bacteria have not
evolved resistance to is recommended.
In the past, putting fluoride in the city water was said by some to be a
communist plot, but today it is in most city water and helps reduce the
number of tooth cavities.
A survey of the U.S. public and scientists found that 86% of scientists say
children should get immunized, while 68% of the public agrees. 87% of
scientists say humans are the primary cause of global warming, but just 50%
of the public agrees. 98% of scientists say humans have evolved, but only
65% of the public agrees.
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