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Keywords:

  • conservation genetics;
  • effective population size;
  • fisheries management;
  • marine protected areas;
  • MIGRATE ;
  • ONeSAMP;
  • population genetics – empirical;
  • reserve design

Abstract

Marine reserves networks are implemented as a way to mitigate the impact of fishing on marine ecosystems. Theory suggests that a reserve network will function synergistically when connected by dispersal, but the scale of dispersal is often unknown. On the Pacific coast of the United States and Canada, both countries have recently implemented a number of rockfish conservation areas (RCAs) to protect exploited rockfish species, but no study has evaluated the connectivity within networks in each country or between the two countries. We used isolation-by-distance theory to estimate the scale of dispersal from microsatellite data in the black rockfish, Sebastes melanops, and compared this estimate with the distance between RCAs that would protect this species. Within each country, we found that the distance between RCAs was generally within the confidence intervals of mean dispersal per generation. The distance between these two RCA networks, however, was greater than the average dispersal per generation. The data were also consistent with a genetic break between southern Oregon and central Oregon. We discuss whether additional nearshore RCAs in southern Oregon and Washington would help promote connectivity between RCA's for shallow-water rockfishes.