Quantifying the squeezing or stretching of fisheries as they adapt to displacement by marine reserves

Conserv Biol. 2016 Feb;30(1):166-75. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12573. Epub 2015 Aug 28.


The designation of no-take marine reserves involves social and economic concerns due to the resulting displacement of fishing effort, when fishing rights are removed from those who traditionally fished within an area. Displacement can influence the functioning of the fishery and success of the reserve, yet levels of displacement are seldom quantified after reserve implementation and very rarely before that. We devised a simple analytical framework based on set theory to facilitate reserve placement. Implementation of the framework requires maps of fishing grounds, fishing effort, or catch per unit effort for at least 2 years. The framework quantifies the level of conflict that a reserve designation might cause in the fishing sector due to displacement and the opportunities to offset the conflict through fisher spatial mobility (i.e., ability of fishers to fish elsewhere). We also considered how the outputs of the framework can be used to identify targeted management interventions for each fishery. We applied the method in Honduras, where the largest marine protected area in Central America is being placed, for which spatial data on fishing effort were available for 6 fisheries over 3 years. The proposed closure had a greater negative impact on the shrimp and lobster scuba fisheries, which concentrated respectively 28% and 18% of their effort inside the reserve. These fisheries could not accommodate the displacement within existing fishing grounds. Both would be forced to stretch into new fishing grounds, which are available but are of unknown quality. These stakeholders will likely require compensation to offset costly exploratory fishing or to travel to fishing grounds farther away from port.

Keywords: Honduras; desplazamiento; displacement; imposed mobility; inherent mobility; marine protected area; movilidad impuesta; movilidad inherente; set theory; teoría de conjuntos; área marina protegida.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Conservation of Natural Resources / methods*
  • Fisheries* / economics
  • Honduras
  • Models, Economic
  • Models, Theoretical