MEPS prepress abstract  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12379

Assessing the size adequacy of a small no-take marine protected area for mediterranean moray and european conger

Tadeu José Pereira***, Ana Filipa Silva**, Pedro Raposo de Almeida, Ana Filipa Belo, José Lino Costa, Nuno Castro, Bernardo Ruivo Quintella

*Email: tjpereira@fc.ul.pt

ABSTRACT: In 2011, several type I marine protected areas (no-take MPAs) were implemented inside the Sudoeste Alentejano and Costa Vicentina Marine Park, along the southwestern coast of Portugal. This study quantified the home range, movement patterns and activity levels of 19 moray Muraena Helena and 6 conger Conger conger eels to assess if the size of one of these MPAs (Pessegueiro Island) is adequate to protect these heavily fished species. Individuals were captured inside and outside the no-take MPA, tagged with acoustic transmitters and monitored for 2 months during the summer of 2013. Morays and congers showed a mean residency index of 0.48 and home ranges of 19.4 and 34.4 ha, respectively, corresponding to 4 and 8% of the MPA. Morays and congers were active for 3.3 and 12.0% of the time, respectively, mainly at night and during quarter lunar phases. Morays moved less than 1 km per day around reefs near the island, while congers roamed more widely. Results highlight the importance of this no-take MPA as a refuge and feeding area for both species, at least during the summer period, and suggest that its size is adequate for protecting these species against fishing activity. Ultimately, the present study provides evidence that small no-take MPAs can be adequate for protecting species with reduced home ranges.