Increased connectivity and depth improve the effectiveness of marine reserves
Marine reserves are a key tool for the conservation of marine biodiversity, yet only ~2.5% of the world's oceans are protected. The integration of marine reserves into connected networks representing all habitats has been encouraged by international agreements, yet the benefits of this design has not been tested empirically. Australia has one of the largest systems of marine reserves, providing a rare opportunity to assess how connectivity influences conservation success. An Australia-wide dataset was collected using baited remote underwater video systems deployed across a depth range from 0 to 100 m to assess the effectiveness of marine reserves for protecting teleosts subject to commercial and recreational fishing. A meta-analytical comparison of 73 fished species within 91 marine reserves found that, on average, marine reserves had 28% greater abundance and 53% greater biomass of fished species compared to adjacent areas open to fishing. However, benefits of protection were not observed across all reserves (heterogeneity), so full subsets generalized additive modelling was used to consider factors that influence marine reserve effectiveness, including distance-based and ecological metrics of connectivity among reserves. Our results suggest that increased connectivity and depth improve the aforementioned marine reserve benefits and that these factors should be considered to optimize such benefits over time. We provide important guidance on factors to consider when implementing marine reserves for the purpose of increasing the abundance and size of fished species, given the expected increase in coverage globally. We show that marine reserves that are highly protected (no-take) and designed to optimize connectivity, size and depth range can provide an effective conservation strategy for fished species in temperate and tropical waters within an overarching marine biodiversity conservation framework.
Measures for Social and Economic Monitoring of the Australian Marine Parks
In this report, we develop a set of recommended measures to monitor the social and economic dimensions of the Australian Marine Parks. Our recommendations are based on a review of approaches used nationally and internationally, and a series of regional workshops with marine park managers and experts from around Australia. The report provides a long-overdue synthesis of approaches used to monitor the social and economic dimensions of marine parks in Australia and should be useful both for informing monitoring of the Australian Marine Parks as well as state-managed marine parks.
Parks Australia is in the process of finalising a Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement (MERI) System to support adaptive management of Australian Marine Parks (AMPs). The Marine Biodiversity Hub is playing an important role in the development and implementation of this system, building on previous experience in identifying key values and pressures relevant to AMPs, and developing integrated monitoring and reporting programs.