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Benenfits of closed area protection for a population of scallops

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Publication details

JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
DatePublished - Aug 2005
Issue number1
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)189-204
Original languageEnglish


Despite the current interest in using closed areas for fisheries management, few studies have actually examined the benefits for invertebrate fisheries such as scallops. This study details the dynamics of a population of great scallops Pecten maximus (L.), within a closed area and an adjacent fished area off the Isle of Man, over a 14 yr period (1989 to 2003). Scallop densities were very low in both areas when the closed area was set up, but increased at an accelerated rate over time within the closed area. Scallop densities also increased on the adjacent fishing ground, but not to the same extent. Consequently, the density of scallops above the minimum legal landing size (110 mm SL) was more than 7 times higher in the closed area than in the fished area by 2003. There was also a shift towards much older and larger scallops in the closed area and, correspondingly, lower estimates of total mortality. Experimental dredging of 2 plots within the closed area confirmed that fishing drove these differences in population dynamics and structure. These patterns of scallop density, age and size structure resulted in the exploitable biomass (adductor muscle and gonad) of scallops being nearly 11 times higher in the closed area than in the fished area by 2003, and the reproductive biomass was 12.5 times higher. This is significant for fisheries management because the build up of high densities of large P. maximus individuals enhanced local reproductive potential and therefore the likelihood of export of larvae to the surrounding fishing grounds. Along with these direct benefits of closed area protection, juvenile scallops had higher survival and individual growth rates in the closed area, apparently in response to reduced fishing disturbance. Although juvenile scallops are not subject to direct removal by fishing, protection during this critical phase therefore appeared to assist the recovery of the closed area population. In summary, this study joins a growing number indicating that the use of closed areas offers a range of benefits over more traditional methods of managing fisheries. Fisheries for relatively sedentary and long-lived species such as P. maximus appear to be particularly suitable for this type of management.

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