Measuring the effectiveness of a marine reserve network in Hawaii

Tissot, Brian N.*; William J. Walsh; Leon E. Hallacher

Washington State Univ., Vancouver, WA.; Division of Aquatic Resources, Kona, HI;  Dept. Biology, Univ. Hawai’i, Hilo, HI. 

A network of nine marine reserves were created in west Hawaii in response to declines in reef fishes due to aquarium collectors. Our research program established 23 study sites in 1999 located in reserve, open and control (existing protected areas) sites to collect data both prior to and after the closure of the reserve network in 2000. To date we have conducted 15 fish surveys and counted > 240,000 fishes, as well as surveys of the benthic habitats of all sites. Analysis of baseline surveys document strong effects of aquarium collector harvesting on selected fishes prior to reserve closure. On average, aquarium fishes were 26% less abundant in reserves than adjacent control areas. Analysis of post-closure surveys in 2000-2001 using a BACI procedure provided no evidence of an increase of aquarium fishes, probably due to the small number of newly recruiting fishes observed. Large recruitment events are rare in west Hawaii but are likely to be an important determinant of the effectiveness of marine reserves to help replenish depleted fish populations.

Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Western Society of Naturalists, Ventura, CA, Nov. 2001.



Last update: 1/25/2005