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Marine Reserves FAQ

More Marine Reserves - Good Option?

January 2001


Closed Areas and Seasons

Closed areas and closed seasons will not have much impact on most mobile fish species if the overall level of harvest stays the same. While we have to admit that the scientists know very little about the amount of movement and mixing for most fish species, the theory is that it doesn't matter too much where or when fish are taken it is the overall level of catch that has to be managed to ensure sustainability of the stock.

Closed areas and closed seasons can work for less mobile species like shellfish and maybe Blue Cod. They may also help manage local depletion issues where they reduce the catch from a heavily fished area. Developing fishery plans that improve recreational fisheries is an important one of the option4 principles.


Marine Reserves and Fisheries Management

The Department of Conservation has a discussion document available from its offices about this and other issues (Tapui Taimoana: Reviewing the Marine Reserves Act 1971). Submissions on this review closed on 22/12/00. Marine reserves are not used as a fisheries management tool in New Zealand, the purpose marine reserves is to establish areas of unique or characteristic environments maintained in a pristine state. Even so there is evidence at Leigh Marine Reserve that closed areas assist the rebuild of rock lobster stocks in localised areas.

The use of closed areas for fisheries management is however used in several New Zealand fisheries. The best example is the Challenger Scallop Enhancement Company's use of rotational farming to spread the fishing effort and allow area stocks to recover in much the same way as rotational cropping or grazing is used in the agricultural sector.

Closed area management is likely to be most effective for managing stocks of sedentary species (i.e. those that don't move around) such as scallops. The use of closed areas for most finfish species is likely to be of limited value since the fish range over wide areas and don't stay within the closed areas. However there is value in using closed areas is some situations for example juvenile snapper tend to congregate in shallow waters and closing these areas to fishing would protect them during this vulnerable stage of their life cycle.


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