[Coral-List] Questions from the coal face

John McManus jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu
Wed Dec 24 13:13:55 EST 2008

Hi Chris,

If you are in an area that is very heavily fished, then even a very small
area will result in substantially more fish being protected and thus
becoming larger and more abundant. The effectiveness will vary greatly with
the species of fish. For example, one could protect closely home-ranging
fish such as some serranids, angelfish, etc. within an area of a quarter of
a sq km. Most sharks would need enormously larger areas in order to protect
the average individual from being caught by fishers, due to their usually
very large home range. For corals and other sedentary species, nearly any
size reserve is helpful provided it is protected from pollution and
over-fishing. The Masinloc, Apo, and Sumilon reserves in the Philippines are
all very tiny, and yet have shown doubling, tripling, or greater increases
in fish density and coral cover, and have even resulted in doubling or
greater increases in local fish catch outside the reserves. Smaller reserves
are usually easier to put together, and larger reserves cover the needs of
more species. Thus, a rational target is to seek a wide range of sizes
across a national area. Opportunities to apply reserve size theory in any
effective way are quite not always common, and too strong a focus on these
centrally planned reserves under some circumstances can divert attention
away from more effectively building up hundreds of small, village-managed
(and government reinforced) reserves. Both centrally-planned and
village-oriented types are likely to be synergistically effective in a
national context, but if one puts a strong emphasis on setting aside 25% of
whatever is available to a given community in a fishery-dependent area, one
may make effective and more immediate progress. Simple guidelines such as
protecting at least half of the areas of greatest fishing pressure (thus
protecting areas of high fish biomass), protecting reef channels (where many
fish breed and migrate), protecting high relief areas (where fish
congregate), and identified spawning aggregation areas are likely to be
effective. More importantly, reserves should be built as tools within the
context of better participatory village-level, provincial, and national
coastal management (including fisheries management).  

Most of this material is in the grey literature and books. ReefBase is the
best source of listings for this. I will send you a collection of some key
relevant articles, including one on MPA training needs wherein we covered a
lot of this material(1). Look also for collections of workshop discussions
edited by Alan White and others. Bob Johannes had some important articles on
'data-less' reserves, and articles by Lynne Hale, Brian Crawford, Bob
Pomeroy, Liana McManus and others on participatory integrated coastal
management will be extremely helpful. The book 'Reef Fisheries' (Chapman and
Hall) has a lot to offer, and there is a lot of literature more recently on
spawning aggregations. 

Note that this planning approach does not address connectivity issues, other
than through the general principle that many reserves of many sizes will
probably improve the success of one reef repopulating another when needed.
We desperately need to know more about connectivity, home ranges, and
socio-economic aspects of coral reef and coastal management. However, we
even more desperately need to encourage local people to start protecting
areas now using whatever rational guidelines are available. Despite concerns
to the contrary, there are very few well-protected reef reserves around the
world that failed to effectively increase fish and coral abundance within
them. Sadly, there are very few well-protected reserves -- a sign for a need
for the participatory approach and ways to improve it. In general, the world
need to take action now, while at the same time supporting the socioeconomic
and biophysical science needed to make these efforts more effective. 

(1. McManus, J.W. 1998. Marine reserves and biodiversity: Toward 20% by
2020. p. 25-29. In McManus, J. W., van Zwol, C., Garces, L.R. and
Sadacharan, D. (eds). A Framework for Future Training in Marine and Coastal
Protected Area Management. ICLARM Conf. Proc. 57, 54 p.)
Happy Holidays to All!


John W. McManus, PhD
Director, National Center for Coral Reef Research (NCORE)
Professor, Marine Biology and Fisheries
Coral Reef Ecology and Management Lab (CREM Lab)
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS)
University of Miami, 4700 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, 33149
jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu      http://ncore.rsmas.miami.edu
 Phone: 305-421-4814   Fax: 305-421-4910

  "If I cannot build it, I do not understand it."
              --Richard Feynman, Nobel Laureate


-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of
chris at oceanswatch.org
Sent: Tuesday, December 23, 2008 3:30 PM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] Questions from the coal face

We at www.oceanswatch.org are in the business of empowering local
communities to manage their marine resources to ensure a sustainable protein
supply into the future. We do this through education, encouragement and by
providing resources such as equipment that allows them to do their own

We work with communities in developing countries and our end goal is to
establish small marine reserves as well as putting in place other management
practices to protect the ecosystem. All the areas where we work are within
the tropics so have reef systems.

I am NOT an academic, nor can OceansWatch afford to employ one. I
occasionally have questions that need academic input so I hope that the List
will be happy for me to post these here. Thank you.

Ok first question :)  We work at village level. Typically a village might
control from just 1/2 a mile to a few miles of coastline and reef. The
villages are very autonomous. With such a small area available within which
to establish a reserve (Tabu area) the question that keeps arising for me is
"what's the smallest area that's worth protecting" The area has to be small
enough that the village will not be under too much pressure due to the
decrease in available fishing area yet big enough to have a measurable
effect within 2-5 years. Can someone please direct me at some on-line
resources that address this question?

Thank you,

Chris Bone
Coral-List mailing list
Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov

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