Spillover of fish naïveté from marine reserves

Authors

  • Fraser A. Januchowski-Hartley,

    Corresponding author
    • Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
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  • Nicholas A. J. Graham,

    1. Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
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  • Joshua E. Cinner,

    1. Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
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  • Garry R. Russ

    1. Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
    2. School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
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Correspondence: E-mail: f.a.hartley@gmail.com

Abstract

Spillover of adult fish biomass is an expected benefit from no-take marine reserves to adjacent fisheries. Here, we show fisher-naïve behaviour in reef fishes also spills over from marine reserves, potentially increasing access to fishery benefits by making fishes more susceptible to spearguns. The distance at which two targeted families of fishes began to flee a potential fisher [flight initiation distance (FID)] was lower inside reserves than in fished areas, and this reduction extended outside reserve boundaries. Reduced FID persisted further outside reserves than increases in fish biomass. This finding could help increase stakeholder support for marine reserves and improve current models of spillover by informing estimates for spatial changes in catchability. Behavioural changes of fish could help explain differences between underwater visual census and catch data in quantifying the spatial extent of spillover from marine reserves, and should be considered in the management of adjacent fisheries.

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