MEPS 396:99-109 (2009)  -  doi:10.3354/meps08279

Effects of fisheries closure size, age, and history of compliance on coral reef fish communities in the western Indian Ocean

Tim R. McClanahan1,*, Nicholas A. J. Graham2,3, Shaun K. Wilson3,4, Yves Letourneur5, Rebecca Fisher6

1Marine Programs, Wildlife Conservation Society, 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York 10460, USA
2School of Marine Science and Technology, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK
3ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia
4Department of Environment and Conservation, 17 Dick Perry Ave, Kensington, Western Australia 6151, Australia
5Centre d’Océanologie de Marseille, Université de la Méditerranée, Campus de Luminy, Case 901, 13288 Marseille cedex 09, France
6Australian Institute of Marine Science, UWA Oceans Institute (M096), 35 Stirling Hwy, Crawley, Western Australia 6009, Australia

ABSTRACT: The hypothesis that the history of management compliance (strong versus variable), closure size (0.3 to 28 km2), closure age (2 to 39 yr), and habitat/geographic variables influenced total fish biomass, the number of species, and the ratio of herbivores to carnivores in no-take areas was tested. Twenty existing closures across 6 countries in the western Indian Ocean were sampled during the same time period (2004 to 2007). Geographic location and closure attributes were weak to moderate predictors of these coral reef fish community variables for analyses of all closures. Strong interactions between fish community variables and levels of compliance indicated that high compliance sites largely drove the closure–fish community relationships. Variable or weak compliance and closures <1 km2 exhibited limited recovery of fish communities. The closure area–fish biomass data for strong-compliance closures indicates that biomass is stable above 5 km2. A mix of community-based, private, and national program closures were sampled, and, although low sample sizes within each of these management systems precludes conclusive analysis, none of these management systems was universally successful in terms of compliance or maximizing fish community variables.

KEY WORDS: East Africa · Island biogeography · Marine protected areas · Marine fisheries reserves · Private parks · Protected area management · Resilience

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Cite this article as: McClanahan TR, Graham NAJ, Wilson SK, Letourneur Y, Fisher R (2009) Effects of fisheries closure size, age, and history of compliance on coral reef fish communities in the western Indian Ocean. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 396:99-109

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