Date of Award

8-2014

Degree Name

MS in Biological Sciences

Department

Biological Sciences

Advisor

Dean Wendt

Abstract

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are implemented to address a variety of management concerns, including conservation and restoration of fisheries, but few studies assess how MPAs affect regional fishing patterns. Previous research suggests effort will intensify at MPA edges, but few datasets include sufficient pre-implementation data to quantify how MPAs alter fishing effort. We used recreational fisheries data collected by scientific observers aboard Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessels that target nearshore fish species, primarily rockfish. We assessed shifts in the spatial distribution of fishing effort over a 10-year period that includes pre- and post-implementation observations of the California MPA network along the Central Coast. We visually depict fine-scale annual fishing pressure, calculate total regional effort, and identify changing hot spots of fishing activity. While we found no evidence for “fishing the line”, MPA implementation was associated with changes in regional fishing patterns, including contraction of fishing effort away from the northern extent of the region and increased effort intensity in some pre-MPA fishing hotspots. Fishing effort redistribution should be considered in future management decisions regarding California’s MPA network.

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