Coral grouper (Plectropomus spp.) are a valuable fisheries species throughout the Indo-Pacific region. The total annual harvest on the Great Barrier Reef averages 983 metric tons. The majority of fish are exported live to foreign markets. Credit: Tane Sinclair Taylor. Scientists say a ‘portfolio’ of protected areas within marine parks such as the Great Barrier Reef can help secure sustainable fish populations. Dr. Hugo Harrison from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University (Coral CoE at JCU) led a study on the effects of marine reserves, or no-take zones, on fish populations . "The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park has established networks of no-take zones," Dr. Harrison said. "A ‘portfolio’ of these protected areas can help connect reefs and ultimately provide more reliable quantities of fish across an ecosystem." Dr. Harrison says no-take zones—areas closed to fishing—on their own act as valuable sources of fish for neighbouring reefs. These areas support more fish, which then produce even greater numbers of baby fish. But, just how many babies survive and where they end up varies greatly from year to year. These fluctuations can be volatile and uncertain. "Our findings are comparable to investing your […]

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