This study explores the efficacy, or lack thereof, of no-take reserves to effectively reduce coral disease and loss, identifying land-based pollution, particularly nutrients, as a persistent cause of coral impairment, from fecundity to disease. In the Mexican Caribbean, marine protected areas (MPAs) are a management tool to address impact of coastal development on reefs, but the efficacy is not well understood. This study considers how various management strategies may impact coral reefs. Results from this study are in-line with the other studies which show that MPAs alone cannot protect reefs from pollution. Typically, coral cover and survivorship is higher in protected areas, which is supported by the findings that MPA size and protection time relate to increased coral cover. Although MPAs areas are increasing in area, land-based pollution associated with coastal development compromises their efficacy. This study hypothesizes that ongoing development will lead to reduced coral cover despite MPAs and other protections. The paper calls for an integrated management approach to coastal areas, including improved wastewater treatment, to support the capacity of MPAs to protect and support coral reefs.

Authors: Suchley, A. and L. Alvarez-Filip
Year: 2018
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Conservation Letters 11:5. doi:10.1111/conl.12571

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