Marine reserves provide baby bonus to fisheries


It's no surprise that areas closed to fishing have more fish and bigger fish. Our research shows that these fish will also contribute to the replenishment of populations beyond the boundaries of marine reserves. 


Using DNA parentage analysis we were able to show that no-take marine reserves in the Keppel Island group on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) make an important contribution to the replenishment of locally exploited populations of coral trout (Plectropomus maculatus) and stripey snapper (Lutjanus carponotatus). 


These compelling findings provided crucial support for no take marine reserves as an effective conservation and fisheries management tool.

 
 The barcheeked coral trout,  Plectropomus maculatus,  Photo credit: Phil Woodhead Underwater Photography

The barcheeked coral trout, Plectropomus maculatus,  Photo credit: Phil Woodhead Underwater Photography

  Realized dispersal patterns of juvenile coral trout from a network of marine reserves   Using DNA fingerprinting technology, we tracked the dispersal pathways of baby coral trout and stripey snappers from the marine reserves (dark green) in the Keppel island group where they were spawned. We found that a very large proportion of baby fish settled on reefs in areas that are open to fishing, up to 30 kilometres from the place they were spawned. Most of the baby fish settled within 1-5kms of reserves but a significant proportion dispersed 10 kilometres or more to find a new home. Other reserves in the island group are indicated by dashed lines. 

Realized dispersal patterns of juvenile coral trout from a network of marine reserves

Using DNA fingerprinting technology, we tracked the dispersal pathways of baby coral trout and stripey snappers from the marine reserves (dark green) in the Keppel island group where they were spawned. We found that a very large proportion of baby fish settled on reefs in areas that are open to fishing, up to 30 kilometres from the place they were spawned. Most of the baby fish settled within 1-5kms of reserves but a significant proportion dispersed 10 kilometres or more to find a new home. Other reserves in the island group are indicated by dashed lines.