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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 387:275-285 (2009)  -  DOI:

Evaluating effects of total and partial restrictions to fishing on Mediterranean rocky-reef fish assemblages

Antonio Di Franco1, Simona Bussotti1, Augusto Navone2, Pieraugusto Panzalis2, Paolo Guidetti1*

1Laboratory of Zoology and Marine Biology, DiSTeBA, University of Salento, 73100 Lecce, Italy
2Marine Protected Area of Tavolara-Punta Coda Cavallo, via Dante 1, 07026 Olbia, Italy
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Fish assemblages were assessed by visual census in sublittoral rocky reefs at the Tavolara-Punta Coda Cavallo Marine Protected Area (TMPA; Mediterranean Sea) and compared among locations characterised by different protection levels: no-take/no-access zones, 2 types of partial protected areas (PPAs, where professional and recreational fishing are regulated in different ways) and locations outside the TMPA. Fish assemblage structures evaluated on abundance data did not differ among different protection levels, while no-take/no-access zones clearly differed from the rest when data were expressed as biomass. Biomass of many target species was higher in no-take/no-access zones mostly due to greater fish size rather than density. For some fish (e.g. the dusky grouper Epinephelus marginatus), however, both greater density and larger size contributed to the greater biomass in no-take/no-access zones. No differences were found between the 2 types of PPAs, and between PPAs and the locations outside the TMPA, in terms of assemblage structures, and in density, size and biomass of target species. These results suggest the need to (1) improve management in PPAs or re-think their role, and (2) quantitatively assess pressure of both professional and recreational fishing operating within and adjacent to MPAs. This will allow MPAs to set up proper regulations (e.g. limiting professional or recreational fishermen, number and type of gears), and achieve the best balance between ecological targets and reduction of conflicts among different categories of marine resource users.

KEY WORDS: Marine protected areas · Fishing regulation · Fish assemblages · Partially protected areas · Visual census · Mediterranean Sea

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Cite this article as: Di Franco A, Bussotti S, Navone A, Panzalis P, Guidetti P (2009) Evaluating effects of total and partial restrictions to fishing on Mediterranean rocky-reef fish assemblages. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 387:275-285.

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