Postprint version. Published in Coral Reefs, Volume 32, Issue 1, March 1, 2013, pages 61-69.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Crow White was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
The definitive version is available at https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-012-0981-1.
The ability of marine protected areas (MPAs) to provide protection from indirect stressors, via increased resilience afforded by decreased impact from direct stressors, remains an important and unresolved question about the role MPAs can play in broader conservation and resource management goals. Over a five-year period, we evaluated coral and fish community responses inside and outside three MPAs within the Roviana Lagoon system in Solomon Islands, where sedimentation pressure from upland logging is substantial. We found little evidence that MPAs decrease impact or improve conditions and instead found some potential declines in fish abundance. We also documented modest to high levels of poaching during this period. Where compliance with management is poor, and indirect stressors play a dominant role in determining ecosystem condition, as appears to be the case in Roviana Lagoon, MPAs may provide little management benefit.