For many commercial and recreational fishers, marine protected areas (where fishing is excluded) are viewed with scepticism.
Critics have questioned the legitimacy of what is referred to as the spillover effect — where excluding fishing is hypothesised to produce ecological and/or commercial fishing benefits beyond the boundaries of the protected area.
- Researchers compared catch rates outside the world’s largest marine protected area off Hawaii, before and after fishing was excluded
- Yellowfin tuna catch rates were boosted by 60 per cent within 100 nautical miles of the boundary, and total “other” species were also higher
- Increased tuna catch rates were seen for 300 nautical miles from the boundary
But research published today in Science suggests fishing exclusion zones can benefit both fishers and the marine environment, and that fish yields for some species can be boosted up to several hundred kilometres away from the protected habitat.