The Potential of marine fishery reserves for reef fish management in the U.S. Southern Atlantic
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The Potential of marine fishery reserves for reef fish management in the U.S. Southern Atlantic

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    Marine fishery reserves (MFRs), areas with no consumptive usage, are recommended as a viable option for management of reef fisheries in the U.S., southern Atlantic region. MFRs are designed to protect reef fish stocks and habitat from all consumptive exploitation within specified geographical areas for the primary purpose of ensuring the persistence of reef fish stocks and fisheries. Fishery reserves are intended to protect older and larger fishes. This will benefit reef fisheries by protecting critical spawning stock biomass, intra-specific genetic diversity, population age structure, recruitment supply, and ecosystem balance while maintaining reef fish fisheries. The MFR concept is easily understandable by the general public and possibly more easily accepted, than some other management strategies. Fishery reserves provide some insurance against management and recruitment failures, simplify enforcement, and have equitable impact among fishery use& Data collection needs solely for management are reduced and management occurs without complete information and understanding about every species and interaction. Use of fishery reserves will establish U.S. leadership in producing model strategies for cooperative international reef resource management in the Caribbean. Large resident fishes that wander out of reserves can help maintain certain trophy fisheries. MFR sites with natural species equilibrium will allow measurement of age, growth, and natural mortality for fisheries purposes and will provide a basis for other educational, economic, and scientific benefits. Because there is no fishing within MFRs, impacts of hook and release mortality are eliminated and the temptation for incidental poaching is reduced. A mixed management strategy is recommended where 20% of the shelf is MFR while the remaining 80% is managed for optimal yield by any of several traditional options. Coordinated fishery reserve efforts in state waters would enhance the benefits of MFRs. Obstacles to fishery reserves include automatic resistance to new approaches in U.S. marine fisheries, opposition by some local special interests near proposed reserves, and uncertainty concerning the size, location, and number of reserves necessary to ensure persistence of the reef fish fisheries. The incentive for deliberate poaching may be increased within reserves; thus, at-sea surveillance and enforcement may be necessary. New artificial reefs may be needed to replace those lost by inclusion within fishery reserves. Other fishery management plans should be coordinated to control Dolling and other fishing activities within reserves that may impact reef fishes. The short-term impacts on total harvest caused by placing fishing habitat into fishing reserves should be compensated for by long-term fishery benefits
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