Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 217–230 | Cite as

Human harvesting impacts on managed areas: ecological effects of socially-compatible shellfish reserves

  • Shankar Aswani
  • Carola F. Flores
  • Bernardo R. Broitman
Research Paper


We examined how human harvesting impacts on managed areas affect the abundance and size distribution of the edible mangrove shellfish Anadara granosa and Polymesoda spp. in the Roviana Lagoon, Solomon Islands. We tested two hypotheses: (1) in areas permanently and temporally closed to human exploitation, abundance and size distribution of these shellfish species is significantly greater than in sites open to exploitation and (2) moderate human disturbance of shell beds, particularly of Polymesoda spp., increases their abundance. Firstly, we studied perceptions of environmental states and processes coupled to foraging and management interventions to assess sociocultural influences on harvesting practices and ascertain the types of management regime that people would consider in a context where poaching and interloping are common practices. Secondly, we compared shellfish abundance and shell size from areas that were permanently protected, temporally reserved for communal harvest, and permanently open for exploitation. Thirdly, drawing from women’s local knowledge, we measured the abundance of Polymesoda spp. in relation to mud compactness in quadrats across the three management regimes. Results showed that both species were significantly more abundant in permanent and temporally closed sites than in open sites. In the mud compactness study, however, while shell abundance was greater in moderately compacted quadrats, there was no statistical relationship between mud compactness and shell abundance within or across the three management regimes. Results suggest that even under the strong impacts of poaching, temporally closed areas have more clams than open areas and are as effective as areas that are permanently closed nominally. The results also suggest that human harvesting regimes can influence the effectiveness of local management decisions and thus are important when designing community-based conservation programs in the Solomon Islands and other Pacific Islands.


Ecological disturbance Foraging MPAs Shellfish Ecological impacts Social acceptability Solomon Islands 



We thank the people of the Western Solomon Islands for their continued support. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation (Grants 2001-17407 and 2005-447628-58080), Conservation International-GCF (Grant 447628-59102), the Pew Charitable Trust (through a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation, 2005), the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (Grant 60243), and the National Science Foundation (Grants NSF-CAREER-BCS-0238539, NSF-HSD-BCS-0826947) have generously provided funds to SA for this research. Finally, BRB was also supported by the Millenium Nucleus Center for the Study of Multiple-drivers on Marine Socio-Ecological Systems (MUSELS) funded by MINECON NC 120086. We also thank Nelson Valdivia who provided crucial support for statistical analyses.

Supplementary material

11160_2014_9376_MOESM1_ESM.jpg (2.3 mb)
Image 1 (supporting material). Photo of Polymesoda clams being sold at a market near the Roviana Lagoon. (JPEG 2404 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shankar Aswani
    • 1
    • 2
  • Carola F. Flores
    • 3
    • 4
  • Bernardo R. Broitman
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science (DIFS)Rhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA
  4. 4.IGP Marine ScienceUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA
  5. 5.Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Aridas (CEAZA)Universidad Católica del NorteCoquimboChile

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