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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 65(3)

A long-term survey of Posidonia oceanica fish assemblages in a Mediterranean Marine Protected Area: emphasis on stability and no-take area effectiveness

Catherine Seytre A B and Patrice Francour A

A University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis, EA 4228 ECOMERS, Parc Valrose, 06108 Nice, France.
B Corresponding author. Email: catherine.seytre@gmail.com

Marine and Freshwater Research 65(3) 244-254 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF13080
Submitted: 28 March 2013  Accepted: 12 August 2013   Published: 30 October 2013


 
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Abstract

Marine reserves have become an important tool advocated to protect diversity, habitat or to restore depleted fish stocks. However, the links between reserve effect and temporal variability of assemblages remains equivocal. The present study presents the results obtained in a long-term series of annual surveys in the Scandola Marine Reserve (Corsica, North-western Mediterranean). An underwater visual census was performed on Posidonia oceanica seagrass beds. Species richness and density of target fish were positively affected by fishing prohibition in the no-take zone. The whole assemblage density and density of non-target and prey fish, prevailing in the seagrass bed, were not or negatively affected by fishing prohibition. Concomitantly, temporal stability was positively related to fishing prohibition. This stabilisation of the fish assemblage in the no-take zone had not been observed over rocky reefs in previous studies. This outcome may be linked to wandering predators of rocky areas, preying upon seagrass fish assemblages. In addition, the complete fishing ban appeared to be to only effective tool in restoring target fish stocks and maintaining a higher stability of the fish assemblage whereas partial fishing prohibition failed to meet this goal.

Additional keywords: management, marine reserve, Scandola.


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