Marine reserves have been widely promoted as conservation and fishery management tools. There are robust demonstrations of conservation benefits, but fishery benefits remain controversial. We show that marine reserves in Florida (United States) and St. Lucia have enhanced adjacent fisheries. Within 5 years of creation, a network of five small reserves in St. Lucia increased adjacent catches of artisanal fishers by between 46 and 90%, depending on the type of gear the fishers used. In Florida, reserve zones in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge have supplied increasing numbers of world record–sized fish to adjacent recreational fisheries since the 1970s. Our study confirms theoretical predictions that marine reserves can play a key role in supporting fisheries.
Roberts, C.M, Bohnsack, J.A., Gell, F.R., Hawkins, J.P. and Goodridge, R (2001) Effects of marine reserves on adjacent fisheries. Science, 294: 1920-1923. [DOI: 10.1126/science.294.5548.1920]