Marine spatial planning (MSP) is increasingly utilized to sustainably manage ocean uses. Marine protected areas (MPAs), a form of spatial management in which parts of the ocean are regulated to fishing, are now a common tool in MSP for conserving marine biodiversity and managing fisheries. However, the use of MPAs in MSP often neglects, or simplifies, the redistribution of fishing and non-fishing activities inside and outside of MPAs following their implementation. This redistribution of effort can have important implications for effective MSP. Using long-term (14 yr) aerial surveys of boats at the California Channel Islands, we examined the spatial redistribution of fishing and non-fishing activities and their drivers following MPA establishment. Our data represent 6 yr of information before the implementation of an MPA network and 8 yr after implementation. Different types of boats responded in different ways to the closures, ranging from behaviors by commercial dive boats that support the hypothesis of fishing-the-line, to behaviors by urchin, sport fishing, and recreational boats that support the theory of ideal free distribution. Additionally, we found that boats engaged in recreational activities targeted areas that are sheltered from large waves and located near their home ports, while boats engaged in fishing activities also avoided high wave areas but were not constrained by the distance to their home ports. We did not observe the expected pattern of effort concentration near MPA borders for some boat types; this can be explained by the habitat preference of certain activities (for some activities, the desired habitat attributes are not inside the MPAs), species’ biology (species such as urchins where the MPA benefit would likely come from larval export rather than adult spillover), or policy-infraction avoidance. The diversity of boat responses reveals variance from the usual simplified assumption that all extractive boats respond similarly to MPA establishment. Our work is the first empirical study to analyze the response of both commercial and recreational boats to closure. Our results will inform MSP in better accounting for effort redistribution by ocean users in response to the implementation of MPAs and other closures.



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URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/bio_fac/466