Marine Protected Areas

Figure 8: A cartoon to represent reasons for use of MPAs 'a fishes perspective'

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are defined as ‘any area of the intertidal or sub tidal terrain, together with its overlying water and associated flora, fauna, historical and cultural features, which has been reserved by law or other effective means to protect part or all of the enclosed environment’ these currently only cover  0.72% of the world’s oceans (Wells 2008). There are many different types which allow different usages of reefs. Some are ‘no take zones’ which means permission is needed to remove organisms and only then should it be used for scientific reasons only (Wells 2008). Seasonal MPAs are areas which allow no take for somepart of the year to allow reproduction and re-population of nursery areas. The largest MPA is the Great Barrier Reef which covers 344,000km2 (Kaiser et al. 2005).

a birds eye view of the great barrier reef

Figure 7: The Great Barrier Reef; the largest Marine Park in the world.

These areas are valuable for keeping fish stocks at a sustainable level, economic values high and ensuring habitats for organisms to thrive on.Generally, with protection to the reefs and other areas such as mangroves (which juvenile fish rely on) the corals will increase in resilience with decrease in disturbance.

Disturbance to a limit will benefit the coral reefs bringing heterogeneity and diversity (Halford et al.2004).A system is said to be ‘stable’ is when; the corals are put under pressure and they stay the same or they change but revert back to the original state when the pressure is decreased again. These are resistant and resilient respectively (Halford et al.2004). With anthropogenic disturbances increasing, the rate of recovery and resilience to natural events could be at risk making it harder for them to bounceback after huge events like El-Nino or storms.

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