Reproductive output of two benthic resources (Fissurella latimarginata and Loxechinus albus) under different management regimes along the coast of central Chile
Subida, Maria Dulce
The biological and ecological benefits of fully and partially marine protected areas are well documented. However, the benefits reaching areas beyond the limits of the reserves are still emerging in spite the fact that they are essential for fishing grounds recovery and to gain support for the protection of the ocean among stakeholders. We analyzed the influence of protection on gonadosomatic index, and also body dry weight, of two economically and ecologically important species: the keyhole limpet, Fissurella latimarginata and the red sea urchin, Loxechinus albus, in order to determine the value of protected areas in directly enhancing reproduction, and therefore potential seeding on exploited areas. We compared two levels of protection in central Chile, determined by fisheries management regimes (in turn associated to fishing pressure): a) areas with fishing restrictions (low or none fishing effort; territorial use rights for fisheries and no-take areas) and b) open access areas (high exploitation rates). We also evaluated the independent influence of upwelling on both variables. Our results show for both species that a) body dry weight is not affected by management regime, b) management regime did not show a consistent impact on gonadosomatic index and c) upwelling did not affect the response variables. Our findings help disentangling the main factors determining reproductive patterns under contrasting human impact scenarios, suggesting that the selection of sites for establishing marine protected areas seems to be less relevant than efficient control of fishing effort and minimum legal size to assure natural seeding.