Main content area

Using spatial population models to investigate the potential effects of the Ross Sea region Marine Protected Area on the Antarctic toothfish population

Mormede, Sophie, Dunn, Alistair, Parker, Steve, Hanchet, Stuart
Fisheries research 2017 v.190 pp. 164-174
Dissostichus mawsoni, conservation areas, fish communities, fisheries, juveniles, models, planning, Antarctic region
One aim of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is to protect a representative portion of the environment through spatial closures to extractive practices such as fisheries. Although they usually involve the displacement of fisheries, their design rarely takes into account the effect of displacing that fishery on the target fish population. We used a spatially explicit population model of Antarctic toothfish in the Ross Sea region to investigate the effects of the endorsed Ross Sea region MPA on the fishery dynamics and the spatial distribution of the toothfish population. Our study indicates that the MPA will likely improve protection of the juvenile population residing on the Antarctic Shelf, while the number of areas with high levels of depletion is unlikely to increase compared to status quo management. Results also suggested a small increase in the catch limit under the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) harvest management rules, but with a slight reduction in catch rates. We have showed that spatial modelling tools can help inform MPA planning by simultaneously quantifying potential effects on the fish population and the ability to achieve conservation goals.