Main content area

Can small MPAs protect local populations of a coastal flatfish, Solea senegalensis?

Abecasis, D., Afonso, P., Erzini, K.
Fisheries management and ecology 2014 v.21 no.3 pp. 175-185
Solea senegalensis, acoustics, adults, biomass, habitats, sole, telemetry
The benefits of protection of a small (4.3 km²) marine protected area (MPA) for Senegalese sole, Solea senegalensis, were investigated through experimental fishing trials and long‐term (up to 293 days) passive acoustic telemetry. A total of 106 trammel net sets were carried out between 2007 and 2011. Significant differences in abundance and biomass of sole between bottom types/depths (sandy bottoms between 12 and 20 m deep vs muddy bottoms between 35 and 45 m deep) were found, but no significant differences were attributable to the implementation of the no‐take area. Passive acoustic telemetry revealed that most Senegalese sole spent a large part of their time between first and last detections (average residency index = 69%) inside a relatively small area (average 95% = 1.2 km²), during which they preferred sandy bottoms, the most common habitat inside the MPA. Results also demonstrated that Senegalese sole do regular excursions beyond reserve boundaries, eventually emigrating from the MPA. The results suggest that small coastal MPAs providing adequate habitat may protect individuals of this species while allowing for moderate levels of adult spillover to neighbouring areas.