Evaluating Effectiveness of a Marine Protected Area Network in West Hawai'i to Increase Productivity of an Aquarium Fishery

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2004-04
Authors
Tissot, Brian N.
Walsh, William J.
Hallacher, Leon E.
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University of Hawai'i Press
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A network of nine Fish Replenishment Areas (FRAs) was established in West Hawai'i in 2000 in response to declines of reef fishes taken by aquarium collectors. In 1999, we established 23 study sites in FRAs, areas open to collectors, and reference areas (existing protected areas) to collect data both before and after the closure of the FRA network in 2000. To date we have conducted 23 bimonthly fish surveys as well as surveys of the benthic habitats of all sites. Baseline surveys, done before FRA closure, document significant effects of aquarium collector harvesting on selected fishes. On average, aquarium fishes were 26% less abundant in newly established FRAs (formerly open) than in adjacent reference areas. Analysis of postclosure surveys in 2000-2002 using a Before-After-Control-Impact procedure provided evidence of a significant increase in two of the 10 species examined, including the yellow tang (Zebrasoma flavescens) , the most collected aquarium fish in Hawai'i. The recovery of yellow tangs to preexploitation levels in the FRAs was probably due to the high number of newly recruited fishes observed in 2001-2002. Large recruitment events are rare in West Hawai'i but are likely to be an important factor determining the effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas to help replenish depleted fish populations.
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Tissot BN, Walsh WJ, Hallacher LE. 2004. Evaluating effectiveness of a marine protected area network in West Hawai'i to increase productivity of an aquarium fishery. Pac Sci 58(2): 175-188.
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