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Marine Ecosystems & Management (MEAM)

LMMA Lessons: Where, and how big, should a no-take area be?

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[Editor's note: The LMMA Network supports learning, advocacy, partnership, and institutional development for community-driven marine resource management and conservation, including through the use of locally-managed marine areas or LMMAs (www.lmmanetwork.org).  In this recurring feature "LMMA Lessons", the network offers insights that its practitioners have gathered over the past decade.]

In 2011-2012, the LMMA Network and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community co-produced a series of information sheets for fishing communities in the Pacific Islands region (www.lmmanetwork.org/resourcecenter).  The sheets describe the targeted fish species in the region, fishing methods and gear, and various community-based management measures.  Among those management measures are no-take areas.  Below, MPA News has excerpted some of the sheets' guidance on no-take area planning:

- Position the no-take area so that it includes different habitats.  During their lifecycle, many species use more than one habitat.  The more corals, seagrass beds and mangroves in a no-take area, the more effective it will be.

- Position the no-take area in a place where it can be watched.  It will be necessary for members of the community to protect or guard the closed area.

- Position the no-take area so that currents flow towards nearby fishing areas.  These currents may assist in carrying larval stages into the fishing areas.

- If a large no-take area is not possible, plan for a smaller one.  Even small no-take zones will benefit less mobile species such as octopuses, clams and some fish.  However, they will be less effective in protecting species that move over large territories or feeding ranges.

- Work with neighboring communities to establish a network of no-take areas.  A network of no-take areas may maximize the linking of larval sources with suitable settlement areas.

- Don't expect immediate results.  Many species take a long time to grow to maturity and reproduce. 

- Don't expect the no-take area to work equally well for all species. 

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