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ESR 15:159-166 (2011)  -  DOI:

Precautionary design of a marine protected area based on a habitat model

Tim Gerrodette*, Tomoharu Eguchi

Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, 3333 North Torrey Pines Court, La Jolla, California 92037, USA

ABSTRACT: A basic principle of effective resource management is that decisions should be conservative in the face of uncertainty. Due to limited data, there is often considerable uncertainty about species’ habitat relationships and requirements. If the boundaries of a protected area are based on relationships estimated by a habitat model, effective management takes the uncertainty into account. The inclusion of uncertainty in the design of a hypothetical marine protected area is described for a coastal population of the long-beaked common dolphin Delphinus capensis off Baja California, Mexico. Line-transect and depth data were combined in a hierarchical Bayesian model. Two possible management goals were considered: protecting 100000 animals or protecting 60% of the population. A precautionary approach was adopted, meaning that the management goal should be met with a high probability. The model estimated that a seaward boundary at 360 m would include 100000 dolphins with a probability of 0.9. A conventional but less precautionary ‘best estimate’ boundary at 160 m would meet the management goal with a probability of 0.5. For the second goal of including 60% of the population, the precautionary and non-precautionary depths were 210 and 170 m, respectively. Habitat models are useful for management, but management decisions based on such models should consider the uncertainty inherent in estimating parameters from data. Models which include the data observation process can improve inference about habitat relationships.

KEY WORDS: Precautionary management · Marine protected area · Delphinus capensis · Cetacean habitat model · Hierarchical Bayes model

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Cite this article as: Gerrodette T, Eguchi T (2011) Precautionary design of a marine protected area based on a habitat model. Endang Species Res 15:159-166.

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