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Marine protected area networks can be robust to climate change

New published results suggest this when MPAs are strategically designed

12/03/2020 -

One of the big questions in marine protection and fisheries is whether Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are going to be effective under the impacts of climate change. Protected areas can be designed for fisheries management, such that spillover effects of protection in adjacent areas can benefit fisheries. The scientific literature knows from years back that a network of spatially designed reserves are beneficial for enhancing adjacent fisheries, and examples of these benefits are available through the world. However, the increasing knowledge on the observed and projected impacts of climate change has raised the question of whether fixed spatial management tools such as marine reserves can be effective under the impacts of climate change. This is one of the main questions of our ERC project CLOCK. New results are now published in Environmental Research Letters, after years of collaboration with Andrew Rassweiler from FSU, and Christopher Costello, from UCSB. The study builds up from a bio-economic model for the Channel Islands in California (USA), and has been developed thanks to CLOCK and Elena’s visits to UCSB.

In this publication, we focus on one of the main impacts of climate change for spatial design: changes in larval dispersal. For seven different species that are important for coastal fisheries, we look at how raising sea water temperature is shifting the patterns of larval dispersal, ultimately affecting these species and their fishing locations. With a bio-economic model that includes such changes in dispersal, we find that designing the MPA networks at current conditions provide a good enough design that is robust to future changes in dispersal. We find this result for all species and regardless the scenario of change, pointing to the efficiency of MPA networks when these are strategically designed. These results support the development of MPA networks for fisheries management and their potential benefits now and under future climate change. You can access the publication here.

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CATEGORIES: Clock, Elena Ojea, Future Oceans Lab, Outreach, Results