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September 21, 2007

Study Indicates Marine Protected Areas Do Not Work

No-take marine protected areas (MPAs) are a poor fishery management tool, according to a report released late last week by Dr. Robert Shipp, chair of the marine sciences department at the University of South Alabama. Shipp examined more than 350 fish stocks and found that MPAs offer no fishery-management benefit for 98 percent of those stocks. The report states, "As a tool for fisheries management, where the goal is maximum sustainable yield, no-take MPAs are generally not as effective as traditional management measures such as size limits, catch limits and seasons." According to the report, no-take MPAs don't work because most fish species range over large distances, greater than any proposed no-fishing zone, and the fishery management benefits of a so-called "spillover" (fish leaving the MPA) will always be less than that available from a well-managed fishery. The report also notes that many species don't need the severe restrictions put in place by no-take MPAs. According to Shipp: "If a fish stock is well managed and healthy, then the need for a no-take MPA is nil." To read the whole report, visit www.asafishing.org.