MPAs can yield significant benefits for regional fisheries

Commercial fishing interests and even recreational anglers often bemoan the political creation of Marine Protected Areas around the globe, but the science suggests these sea-life sanctuaries benefit regional fisheries and those who pursue fish for food or for recreation.

According to a new study published by scientists at UC-Santa Barbara and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, MPAs, while unpopular in many commercial fishing circles because they prohibit fishing and harvest within their boundaries, have an overall positive benefit on regional fisheries, and not just those located within the closed areas.

The study, which focused on spiny lobsters off the coast of southern California, found that lobster populations increased markedly within MPAs. More importantly, lobster populations in adjacent waters outside the MPA boundaries also increased. The increase outside the MPA boundaries is being described as “spillover,” likely due to migration of lobsters from within the MPAs to habitat outside the protected areas.

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