Effective Ecosystem-based Management must Encourage Regulatory Compliance: A Gulf of California Case Study.

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Gulf of California, Atlantis ecosystem model, Marine protected area, Ecosystem based management, Compliance, Enforcement

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The Northern Gulf of California is an area important for small-scale fisheries in terms of economic activity and food security, but widespread non-compliance with fisheries regulations impedes effective management of resources and conservation efforts. Where a previous study evaluated quantitatively a theoretical situation in which all regulations are perfectly followed, this article compares a suite of recently proposed ecosystem-based management (EBM) policies against the expected benefits of full enforcement of current regulations. Policies evaluated include no-take marine protected areas (MPAs), breeding period closures, changes in hook size and fishing effort, and gear-specific spatial closures. No-take MPAs yield ecological benefits over a wide range of MPA sizes and characteristics, but do not increase overall catch. Seasonal closures are effective at reducing overfishing for the depleted leopard grouper (Mycteroperca rosacea); changing the hook size of artisanal longlines does not increase catch of either the target species or the assemblage, and gear-specific fishery closures for crab traps near Puerto Peñasco are effective at reducing overfishing of blue crab (Callinectes bellicosus and C. arcuatus). In general, full enforcement of existing regulations outperforms these EBM policies in terms of conservation benefits, but it may be less palatable to stakeholders as it requires major reductions in catch.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Marine Policy, v. 36, issue 6, p. 1275-1283