Establishing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is a common strategy to conserve marine ecosystem and to enhance the recovery of degraded systems. Large MPAs have been shown to be very effective, while the effectiveness of small MPAs (here <1km²) is still discussed. Small MPAs might not be sufficient in size to enclose the full home range of a target species.
Bonaldo et al. 2017 compared three small no-take MPAs with adjacent areas where fisheries are allowed (non-MPAs) on coral reefs in Fiji. They found that species richness, density and biomass of fishes was higher, and abundance and biomass of grazing herbivores and piscivores was greater in MPAs. Grazing by parrotfishes and macroalgal browsing was greater in MPAs than in non-MPAs and coral cover was more than double the area in MPAs with only 5-25% of macroalgal cover compared to non-MPAs. The study indicates that small MPAs can be effective despite their limited size and are able to enhance ecosystem processes of coral reefs.
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