World’s largest marine reserve benefits migratory tuna and thousands of other species

Map of No Fishing Zones
It is clear at a glance how the no-fishing zone works.
Courtesy of University of Hawaii

A recent new University of Hawaii marine study Published in the journal Science Shows that marine protected areas (MPAs) — or non-commercial fishing areas — can help restore tuna and other large migratory fish stocks, in addition to helping more resident fish, including lobsters and others.

“We show for the first time that no-take zones can lead to the recovery and spillover of migratory species such as bigeye tuna,” study co-author John Lynham, a professor in the Department of Economics at the UH-Mānoa College of Sociology and Science, said in a statement. said in the study’s press release.

In waters around large MPAs, yellowfin tuna increased by 54 percent, while slower-growing bigeye tuna increased by 12 percent.

According to the researchers, this is the first study to show that ideally located large MPAs contribute to migratory species such as tuna, and have “spillover” effects in addition to increasing the number of resident MPA fish such as abundant coral reef species.

Previously, marine protected areas were thought to only help regional fish living in or near closed fishing areas. But Papahānaumokuākea is the largest MPA in the world, covering more than 582 million square miles, about four times the size of California. It is located in western Hawaii and was created in 2006.

Its massive size does not allow commercial fishing within the MPA, which is believed to be why it helps large, highly mobile migratory fish such as tuna.

Papahānaumokuākea is home to countless seabirds and over 7,000 different marine species. Commercial fishing is not permitted within its boundaries.

“Over the past 30 years, we’ve learned that tuna don’t venture as far from home as we once thought,” said study co-author Jennifer Reynolds, a professor in the UW-Madison Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology. Raynor). “The Hawaiian Islands are a hotbed of juvenile yellowfin tuna, and it turns out that many of these fish remain in the area.”

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