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Combining information from benthic community analysis and social studies to establish no-take zones within a multiple uses marine protected area

Authors

  • Úrsula Rojas-Nazar,

    1. Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Áridas (CEAZA), La Serena, Chile
    2. Departamento de Biología Marina, Universidad Católica del Norte, Coquimbo, Chile
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    • Present address: School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington. PO Box 600, Wellington 6140, New Zealand.

  • Carlos F. Gaymer,

    Corresponding author
    1. Departamento de Biología Marina, Universidad Católica del Norte, Coquimbo, Chile
    • Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Áridas (CEAZA), La Serena, Chile
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  • Francisco A. Squeo,

    1. Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Áridas (CEAZA), La Serena, Chile
    2. Universidad de La Serena and Instituto de Ecología y Biodiversidad (IEB), La Serena, Chile
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  • Rosa Garay-Flühmann,

    1. Departamento de Biología Marina, Universidad Católica del Norte, Coquimbo, Chile
    2. Universidad Santo Tomás, Sede La Serena, La Serena, Chile
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  • David López

    1. Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Áridas (CEAZA), La Serena, Chile
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C.F. Gaymer, Departamento de Biología Marina, Universidad Católica del Norte. Casilla 117, Coquimbo, Chile. E-mail: cgaymer@ucn.cl

ABSTRACT

  1. A decision support tool was used to determine priority sites for marine conservation within the Isla Grande de Atacama multiple uses marine protected area (MUMPA) in northern Chile, based on both biological and social information. Scuba diving, and an unweighted paired-group method using arithmetic average (UPGMA) analyses were used to determine the main benthic communities found in the shallow rocky and soft-sediment subtidal.
  2. To establish the costs of conservation, a social survey was undertaken to identify major users, uses and localities within the MUMPA. A multi-layer database with biological, physical, and social information was generated and further defined 28 approximately 70 ha analysis units. Explicit conservation criteria were then determined and four conservation goals defined (protection of 10, 20, 50, and 70% of each of the communities).
  3. Seven rocky reef and three soft-sediment communities were identified in the shallow subtidal. Four of the 28 units had high costs of conservation owing to high frequency of use by fishermen, divers, and algae harvesters (main users). These areas represented the highest risks for potential conflicts with the main users.
  4. Under the conservation goals of 10% and 20%, 36.8 and 44.4% of the whole marine area were selected as priority areas for protection respectively. The units selected presented low and medium costs of conservation, thus they had low risks of potential conflicts with users.
  5. This is the first study that uses a decision support tool to identify priority sites (i.e. units) in the shallow subtidal based on benthic communities and also incorporates social aspects to assess conservation costs. The use of social aspects enables the establishment of management strategies that agree both with biodiversity conservation and socio-economic development of fishing communities. This approach can be replicated for the planning of other coastal MPAs where artisanal fisheries and tourist activities co-occur and interact with conservation efforts.

Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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