- This work examined the potential for marine protected areas based on the efficient design of essential fish habitat (EFH) for juvenile life stages of economically important demersal fish species to represent non-exploited demersal fish species in the Gulf of Maine.
- Distribution and abundance data from research trawl surveys conducted from 1963–2000 were pooled into a 10-min lat/long square sampling grid and density per square of each species was calculated as the mean of counts from all surveys.
- A simulated annealing algorithm (Marxan) was used to identify minimum sets of 10-min squares that represented at least 10–30% of the regional abundance of each species under constraints for degree of spatial aggregation among sites. Numbers of non-exploited species in these sites, and species represented at abundance levels equal to or greater than the targets set for juveniles of economically important species were identified, and both were compared with mean totals from 100 sets of randomly drawn squares of equivalent number to simulation results.
- Percentages of non-exploited species among all scenarios varied from 81–97%. All species absent from simulation results were rare regionally. Species richness was lower in each case compared with randomly drawn squares, but only marginally. However, more species were represented in complementary sites at abundance levels equal to or greater than the targets set for economically important species.
- These results were interpreted with respect to a definition of biodiversity that includes species as well as functional and structural ecosystem components, and it was concluded that the dual objectives of fishery management and biodiversity conservation can be achieved, at least in some cases, within a single network of marine protected areas of moderate size.
Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.