MEPS 379:197-211 (2009)  -  DOI:

Effects of habitat on spillover from marine protected areas to artisanal fisheries

Aitor Forcada1,*, Carlos Valle1, Patrick Bonhomme2, Géraldine Criquet3, Gwenaël Cadiou2, Philippe Lenfant3, José L. Sánchez-Lizaso1

1Unidad de Biología Marina, Departamento de Ciencias del Mar y Biología Aplicada, Universidad de Alicante, POB 99,  03080 Alicante, Spain
2GIS Posidonie, Parc Scientifique & Technologique de Luminy, Case 901, 13288 Marseille Cedex 09, France
3Laboratoire Ecosystèmes Aquatiques Tropicaux et Méditerranéens, UMR 5244 CNRS–EPHE–UPVD ‘Biologie et Ecologie Tropicale et Méditerranéenne’, Université de Perpignan, 52 avenue Paul Alduy, 66860 Perpignan Cedex, France

ABSTRACT: Marine protected areas (MPAs) potentially enhance the long-term sustainability of coastal fish resources that have been overexploited. The types and quality of habitats, both inside and outside the MPAs, may determine the likelihood of migration by fish to surrounding unprotected areas where spillover to fisheries occurs. We assessed whether MPAs enhanced catches of artisanal fisheries, using an experimental fishing study with the same fishing gear as that used by local fishers. This approach allowed us to test the hypothesis of increased catches along the borders of MPAs in comparison with those in other fishing grounds located at medium and far distances from 3 Mediterranean MPAs: Tabarca Marine Reserve, Carry-le-Rouet Marine Reserve and Cerbère-Banyuls Marine Reserve. Surveys were done over 2 homogeneous habitats (Posidonia oceanica meadow and sand), in 3 different seasons. Catches were significantly higher for some species near the borders of the MPAs when fishing on P. oceanica meadows, but not when fishing on sandy bottoms. The spillover effect appears to be limited by a lack of continuous suitable habitat through the boundaries of the MPA. Some of the species that showed a significant response to protection and concurrent higher catches near the MPA borders, such as Dentex dentex, Mullus surmuletus, Phycis phycis, Sciaena umbra and Scorpaena porcus, are target species of artisanal fisheries. Although we found that the spatial scale of the spillover-induced density gradient was localized, it was sufficient to provide local benefits to artisanal fisheries. We conclude that spillover effects are not a universal consequence of siting MPAs in temperate waters and that they are related to the distribution of habitats inside and around MPAs.

KEY WORDS: MPA · Export production · Artisanal fisheries · Fish · Habitat connectivity · Spillover · Mediterranean Sea

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Cite this article as: Forcada A, Valle C, Bonhomme P, Criquet G, Cadiou G, Lenfant P, Sánchez-Lizaso JL (2009) Effects of habitat on spillover from marine protected areas to artisanal fisheries. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 379:197-211.

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