Existing Marine Protected Areas

Lundy Island

The example from Lundy Island is particularly significant as the UK’s only fully protected reserve is also situated in the south-west region. The waters around this small, granitic island support diverse wildlife including the pink sea fan and the sunset cup coral. A voluntary marine nature reserve was established in 1973, but it was not until 30 years later that the site was given full protection through a Sea Fisheries byelaw. During a 2007 survey, there were 6-7 times more lobsters in lobsters in the reserve than in the fished areas. Outside of the reserve, the number of small lobsters found in control sites around Lundy had increased indicating an export of lobsters from the reserve.
Fact: In 2005, 18 months after the no-take zone had been in place, the reserve showed a 2-3 times increase in the abundance of lobsters in area. By 2007, a survey showed a 100% increase in abundance of lobsters from the 2005 figures.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Australia

In 2004, no-take zones were introduced around the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The zones cover an area of approximately 100,000km2 (about one third of the park). Not surprisingly, there were strong objections from commercial and recreational fishers but since the fishing ban, numbers of coral trout have increased dramatically. Coral trout numbers in the fished areas around the zones have not changed. In total, 160 species of fish are being monitored but the coral trout is the only species showing signs of recovery. That said, it can take many years for species to show signs of recovery. In another part of the Great Barrier Reef where fishing has been stopped since 1989, the crown-of-thorns starfish, a voracious predator of corals, has had far fewer population explosions in the no-take zones. Crown-of-thorns starfish can cause immense damage to coral reefs.

Fact: Coral trout numbers have increased in the marine park by between 31% and 64% in 2 years in the areas monitored. Crown-of-thorns starfish which prey on tropical coral reefs have decreased in number since no take zones were introduced.


Tabarca Island Marine Reserve, Alicante Province, Spain

A marine reserve was established around this small Mediterranean Island in 1986. It includes a 100 hectare no take reserve and a buffer zone where some traditional fishing gears are permitted. Spear-fishing and water-skiing are not allowed anywhere in the reserve. A few years after protection, underwater surveys have shown that the abundance and biomass of fish are higher in the reserve than in unprotected areas. This has since resulted in what appears to be an export of fish from the reserve into fished areas. Most significantly, the local fishing fleet is the most modern and viable in the region.

Fact: After six years of protection, catches of grouper had risen by 50% and bream by 85% in zones adjacent to the reserve. After nine years of protection, bream caught nearer to the reserve than away from it had increased three fold.