Coral reef ecosystems play an important role both in promoting marine biodiversity and supporting the communities that depend on them. This study examines the conditions in which multiple social and ecological goals, such as the biomass of fisheries, parrotfish scraping potential, and the diversity of species traits, can be simultaneously met by using different reef management tools. An impact of human pressure and different management tools on the probability of meeting multiple goals was analyzed based on data from about 1,800 tropical reef sites in 41 countries, states, and territories. The key findings of the global analysis suggest that local management tools are likely to help in reaching fish biomass and ecological function goals, however, they are limited in promoting the biodiversity of coral reefs. The conservation gains in marine protected areas (MPAs) and restricted fishing areas are strongly dependent on human pressure, and this correlation is non-linear – a relatively small change in one of the other conditions can significantly impact the results of management efforts. The potential conservation gains also vary by the goal, ambitiousness of the target, and the context. These limitations of local management tools have implications on the placement of new MPAs and emphasize the importance of both socioeconomic factors and international action on climate change. On the local level, the findings can inform decisions of reef managers regarding ways of achieving key fisheries, ecological function, and biodiversity goals by providing guidance on the potential effect of local management tools given the level of human pressure and starting state of coral reef degradation.
Authors: J.E. Cinner, J. Zamborain-Mason, G.G. Gurney, N.A. J. Graham, M.A. MacNeil, A.S. Hoey, C. Mora, S. Villéger, E. Maire, T.R. McClanahan, J.M. Maina, J.N. Kittinger, C.C. Hicks, S. D’agata, C. Huchery, M.L. Barnes, D.A. Feary, I.D. Williams, M. Kulbicki, L. Vigliola, L. Wantiez, G.J. Edgar, R.D. Stuart-Smith, S.A. Sandin, A.L. Green, M. Beger, A.M. Friedlander, S.K. Wilson, E. Brokovich, A.J. Brooks, J.J. Cruz-Motta, D.J. Booth, P. Chabanet, M. Tupper, S.C.A. Ferse, U.R. Sumaila, M.J. Hardt, and D. Mouillot.
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Science 368(6488): 307-311. doi: 10.1126/science.aax9412