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Posted by Divebum Don on March 13, 2011 at 21:01:38:

In Reply to: Anti-MLPA posted by Andy S on March 13, 2011 at 16:05:14:

Marine Protected Areas Can Replenish Distant Waters

A new study has helped show how the establishment of marine protected areas off Hawaii have helped yellow tang, a staple of the aquarium industry, recover from overfishing. The study underlines that fish larvae from such area can "re-seed" fish populations more than 100 miles away.
Luc Viatour/www.lucnix.be

Tiny fish larvae can drift on ocean currents and “re-seed” fish populations more than 100 miles (161 kilometers) away, according to researchers. The scientists say the finding supports the contention that establishing no-fishing zones in the ocean will be of benefit to waters far beyond those zones’ boundaries.

Writing in the open-access, online journal PLoS One, Mark Christie of Oregon State University and colleagues describe conducting DNA fingerprinting of more than 1,000 yellow tang, a popular aquarium fish, off the Kona Coast of Hawaii. This allowed them to match juvenile fish with their parents, which revealed that many healthy juveniles had spawned from long distances away, up to 114 miles (183 kilometers), including some from marine protected areas.

The yellow tang is an ideal fish to help answer the question of larval dispersal because once its larvae settle onto a reef and begin to grow, they are not migratory and live in a home range about half a mile in diameter. If the fish are going to move any significant distance from where they are born, it would have to be as a larva, which drift with the currents for up to two months before settling back to adult habitats.

The researchers conclude that, “our observations of larval connectivity provide the first direct evidence of marine protected areas (MPAs) successfully seeding unprotected areas with larval fish.”

The observations also help explain the effectiveness of a network of nine marine protected areas that were established along the west coast of the Big Island of Hawaii in 1999. Demand for yellow tang for aquariums had pushed the species’ fishery to the brink of collapse; 10 years later, say researchers, it is once more flourishing.

Source: Christie, M.R., et al. 2010. Larval connectivity in an effective network of marine protected areas. PLoS One 5 (12): e15715. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015715

Contact: Mark Christie, Oregon State University. E-mail: christiem@science.oregonstate.edu

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