Carr, who contributed to a report on the first five years of monitoring in the Channel Islands, said that the conclusions are limited by a lack of data collected before the reserves were created. It is possible that some of the observed differences existed before the areas were protected, but such doubts will be erased if current population trends continue, he said.
In Puerto Peasco, the shellfish harvested by local fishermen grow and reproduce quickly. As a result, the fishermen saw beneficial effects within a year after they had established a network of reserves. Subsequent events, however, underscored the role of social factors in the success of fishery management efforts. A second paper, published in PLoS ONE in July, describes how, after its initial success, the local reserve system collapsed due to poaching by outsiders.
"The whole thing got wiped out due to disruption of the social structure that had supported it," Raimondi said. "Scientifically it was really interesting, but for the people who experienced it on the ground, it was terrible."
Richard Cudney-Bueno, a research associate at UCSC's Institute of Marine Sciences and cofounder of the PANGAS project, is the lead author of both papers. "Here was a group of fishermen that had already seen some declines in the shellfish they harvested. This led to the implementation of community-based efforts to manage their resources, including the establishment of marine reserves," he said. "We found that local control of community resources can work, but there has to be broader government support to back up the local efforts."
A native of Mexico City, Cudney-Bueno has been working with Mexican fishing communities and conducting ecological and social research in the Gulf of California since the mid-1990s
|Contact: Tim Stephens|
University of California - Santa Cruz