Assessing the effectiveness of a large marine protected area for reef shark conservation

  • Published source details White T.D., Carlisle A.B., Kroodsma D.A., Block B.A., Casagrandi R., De L.G.A., Gatto M., Micheli F. & McCauley D.J. (2017) Assessing the effectiveness of a large marine protected area for reef shark conservation. Biological Conservation, 207, 64-71.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Cease or prohibit all types of fishing in a marine protected area

Action Link
Marine Fish Conservation
  1. Cease or prohibit all types of fishing in a marine protected area

    A site comparison study in 2006–2013 of a large area of coral reef atolls in an island chain in the Pacific Ocean, USA (White et al. 2017) found that commercial fishing mortality of grey reef sharks Charcharhinus amblyrhnychos tagged at a large marine reserve where all fishing was banned for at least five years appeared to be low, and most of the sharks tracked by satellite remained inside the reserve, while some moved over large distances outside. The data were not statistically tested. Only 2% (five) of the 262 conventional tags deployed on sharks were recovered (the rest were either not caught or not reported), captured by small-scale fisheries at locations outside the reserve between 223–366 km away on average 587 days after tagging. Four of six sharks tracked by satellite remained inside the reserve boundaries for the entire monitoring period (1.3 years), and two were detected outside the reserve for 9% and 57% of time, travelling distances of up to 88 and 810 km respectively. Recovery of satellite-tagged sharks was not reported. Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge (54,126 km2) was established in 2001 (boundaries extended in 2009 and 2014) and prohibits all fishing and other extractive activities. From October 2006 to July 2009, a total of 262 grey reef sharks were caught in the reserve and marked with conventional tags on the dorsal fin. Recovered tags were actively sought (in 2007, 2009 and 2013) and encouraged from fishers at the three nearest inhabited and fished atolls several hundred kilometres away. During the same period, 11 fin-mounted satellite tags were deployed on adult sharks at the reserve, providing adequate data on the movements of six.

    (Summarised by: Natasha Taylor)

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