Postprint version. Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Volume 107, Issue 43, October 26, 2010, pages 18286-18293.
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/10.1073/pnas.0906473107.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) that exclude fishing have been shown repeatedly to enhance the abundance, size, and diversity of species. These benefits, however, mean little to most marine species, because individual protected areas typically are small. To meet the larger-scale conservation challenges facing ocean ecosystems, several nations are expanding the benefits of individual protected areas by building networks of protected areas. Doing so successfully requires a detailed understanding of the ecological and physical characteristics of ocean ecosystems and the responses of humans to spatial closures. There has been enormous scientific interest in these topics, and frameworks for the design of MPA networks for meeting conservation and fishery management goals are emerging. Persistent in the literature is the perception of an inherent tradeoff between achieving conservation and fishery goals. Through a synthetic analysis across these conservation and bioeconomic studies, we construct guidelines for MPA network design that reduce or eliminate this tradeoff. We present size, spacing, location, and configuration guidelines for designing networks that simultaneously can enhance biological conservation and reduce fishery costs or even increase fishery yields and profits. Indeed, in some settings, a well-designed MPA network is critical to the optimal harvest strategy. When reserves benefit fisheries, the optimal area in reserves is moderately large (mode ≈30%). Assessing network design principals is limited currently by the absence of empirical data from large-scale networks. Emerging networks will soon rectify this constraint.