Partially Protected Areas (PPAs) are a widely-used management tool, yet comparatively little is known about their effectiveness compared to more commonly studied No-Take Marine Reserves (NTMRs). Here, we examine the efficacy of two kinds of PPAs (with and without spearfishing) within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) that are subject to a range of fishing limitations, and assess their utility as a marine park zoning and fisheries management tool. Fish abundance, size, and habitat composition were compared inside PPAs and NTMRs on inshore reefs of the central GBR. Fish abundances were lower inside PPAs relative to adjacent NTMRs for primary fishing targets, with no detectable effects for secondary targets and non-targets, or for species richness. Fish assemblages differed amongst zones, but these variations were minor compared to regional variations in species composition. Partially Protected Areas supported 46%–69% of the relative abundance of total primary targets compared to adjacent NTMRs, with no evident increase in abundance in zones where spearfishing was prohibited. There were no reductions in the size of two key target species: coral trout (Plectropomus spp.) and stripey snapper (Lutjanus carponotatus) inside PPAs, and only stripey snapper had significant reductions in abundance inside PPAs compared to NTMRS. Habitat and biophysical characteristics (especially topographic complexity) were strong drivers of fish abundance, but the relative influence of zone was greater for target species compared to non-targets. This study provides novel data on PPAs and highlights their utility as a spatial management tool in contributing to conservation and fisheries management goals.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Data availability and material
The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
Code for R statistical procedures are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
Anderson MJ (2001) A new method for non-parametric multivariate analysis of variance. Austral Ecol 26:32–46
Anderson MJ (2017) Permutational Multivariate Analysis of Variance (PERMANOVA). Wiley StatsRef: Statistics Reference Online:1–15 doi:https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118445112.stat07841
Anderson MJ, Willis TJ (2003) Canonical analysis of principal coordinates: a useful method of constrained ordination for ecology. Ecology 84:511–525. https://doi.org/10.1890/0012-9658(2003)084[0511:caopca]
Ban NC, McDougall C, Beck M, Salomon AK, Cripps K (2014) Applying empirical estimates of marine protected area effectiveness to assess conservation plans in British Columbia. Canada Biol Conserv 180:134–148. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2014.09.037
Bergseth BJ, Williamson DH, Russ GR, Sutton SG, Cinner JE (2017) A social–ecological approach to assessing and managing poaching by recreational fishers. Front Ecol Environ 15:67–73. https://doi.org/10.1002/fee.1457
Boaden AE, Kingsford MJ (2015) Predators drive community structure in coral reef fish assemblages. Ecosphere 6:art46 doi:https://doi.org/10.1890/ES14-00292.1
Bobiles RU, Nakamura Y (2019) Partially protected marine areas as a conservation tool for commercially important fishes in the Philippines: Do age, size, and design matter? Reg Stud Mar Sci. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rsma.2018.100459
Bolker BM, Brooks ME, Clark CJ, Geange SW, Poulsen JR, Stevens MHH, White J-SS (2009) Generalized linear mixed models: a practical guide for ecology and evolution. Trends Ecol Evol 24:127–135. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2008.10.008
Bradley M, Baker R, Sheaves M (2017) Hidden components in tropical seascapes: deep-estuary habitats support unique fish assemblages. Estuar Coasts: J ERF 40:1195–1206. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12237-016-0192-z
Cappo M, De’ath G, Speare P (2007) Inter-reef vertebrate communities of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park determined by baited remote underwater video stations. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 350:209–221
Cappo M, Speare P, De’ath G (2004) Comparison of baited remote underwater video stations (BRUVS) and prawn (shrimp) trawls for assessments of fish biodiversity in inter-reefal areas of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 302:123–152. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jembe.2003.10.006
Cappo M, Stowar M, MacNeil M (2010) The influence of zoning (closure to fishing) on fish communities of the shoals and reef bases of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Results of repeated surveys of the southern banks and Cardwell shoals, and an overview with regional comparisons. Report to the Australian Government’s Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility (MTSRF). Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Townsville
Cappo M, Stowar M, Syms C, Johansson C, Cooper T (2011) Fish-habitat associations in the region offshore from James Price Point: a rapid assessment using Baited Remote Underwater Video Stations (BRUVS). J Royal Soc West Aust 94:303–321
Ceccarelli DM et al (2018) Rehabilitation of coral reefs through removal of macroalgae: state of knowledge and considerations for management and implementation. Restor Ecol 26:827–838. https://doi.org/10.1111/rec.12852
Chong-Seng KM, Mannering TD, Pratchett MS, Bellwood DR, Graham NAJ (2012) The influence of coral reef benthic condition on associated fish assemblages. PLoS ONE 7:10. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0042167
Clarke KR, Gorley RN, Somerfield RN, Warwick RM (2014) Change in marine communities: an approach to statistical analysis and interpretation: 3rd Edition. In. Plymouth,
Coleman MA, Palmer-Brodie A, Kelaher BP (2013) Conservation benefits of a network of marine reserves and partially protected areas. Biol Conserv 167:257–264. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2013.08.033
Curley BG, Glasby TM, Curley AJ, Creese RG, Kingsford MJ (2013) Enhanced numbers of two temperate reef fishes in a small, partial-take marine protected area related to spearfisher exclusion. Biol Conserv 167:435–445. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2013.07.031
Day JC, Kenchington RA, Tanzer JM, Cameron DS (2019) Marine zoning revisited: How decades of zoning the Great Barrier Reef has evolved as an effective spatial planning approach for marine ecosystem-based management. Aquat Conserv 29:9–32. https://doi.org/10.1002/aqc.3115
Denny CM, Babcock RC (2004) Do partial marine reserves protect reef fish assemblages? Biol Conserv 116:119–129. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3207(03)00183-6
Department of Agriculture F, and Forestry (DAFF) (2020) QFish Commercial Line Fishery Data. https://qfish.fisheries.qld.gov.au/. Accessed 18/06/2020 2020
Edgar GJ et al(2014) Global conservation outcomes depend on marine protected areas with five key features. Nature 506:216-. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature13022
Elith J, Leathwick JR, Hastie T (2008) A working guide to boosted regression trees. J Anim Ecol 77:802–813. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2656.2008.01390.x
Emslie MJ, Cheal AJ, Logan M (2017) The distribution and abundance of reef-associated predatory fishes on the Great Barrier Reef. Coral Reefs 36:829–846. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-017-1573-x
Emslie MJ et al (2015) Expectations and outcomes of reserve network performance following re-zoning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Curr Biol 25:983–992. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2015.01.073
Espinoza M, Cappo M, Heupel MR, Tobin AJ, Simpfendorfer CA (2014) Quantifying shark distribution patterns and species-habitat associations: implications of marine park zoning. PLoS ONE 9:e106885. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0106885
Evans RD, Russ GR (2004) Larger biomass of targeted reef fish in no-take marine reserves on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Aquat Conserv 14:505–519. https://doi.org/10.1002/aqc.631
Fox HE et al (2012) Reexamining the science of marine protected areas: linking knowledge to action. Conserv Lett 5:1–10. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1755-263X.2011.00207.x
Frisch AJ, Cole AJ, Hobbs J-PA, Rizzari JR, Munkres KP (2012) Effects of spearfishing on reef fish populations in a multi-use conservation area. PLoS ONE 7:e51938. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0051938
Gaines SD, White C, Carr MH, Palumbi SR (2010) Designing marine reserve networks for both conservation and fisheries management. Proc Natl Acad Sci 107:18286–18293. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0906473107
GBRMPA (2003) Report on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
Gell FR, Roberts CM (2003) Benefits beyond boundaries: the fishery effects of marine reserves. Trends Ecol Evol 18:448–455. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0169-5347(03)00189-7
Halpern BS, Lester SE, Kellner JB (2009) Spillover from marine reserves and the replenishment of fished stocks. Environ Conserv 36:268–276. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0376892910000032
Harasti D, Williams J, Mitchell E, Lindfield S, Jordan A (2018) Increase in relative abundance and size of snapper Chrysophrys auratus within partially-protected and no-take areas in a temperate marine protected area. Front Mar Sci. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2018.00208
Harrison HB et al (2012) Larval export from marine reserves and the recruitment benefit for fish and fisheries. Curr Biol 22:1023–1028
Hughes TP, Bellwood DR, Folke CS, McCook LJ, Pandolfi JM (2007) No-take areas, herbivory and coral reef resilience. Trends Ecol Evol 22:1–3
Hurlbert, (1984) Pseudoreplication and the design of ecological field experiments. Ecol Monogr 54:187–211
Jones GP, McCormick ML, Srinivasan M, Eagle JV (2004) Coral decline threatens fish biodiversity in marine reserves. P Natl Acad Sci 101:8251–8253. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0401277101
Jouvenel JY, Pollard DA (2001) Some effects of marine reserve protection on the population structure of two spearfishing target-fish species, Dicentrarchus labrax (Moronidae) and Sparus aurata (Sparidae), in shallow inshore waters, along a rocky coast in the northwestern Mediterranean. Sea Aquat Conserv-Mar Freshw Ecosyst 11:1–9. https://doi.org/10.1002/aqc.424
Kingsford M, Syms C, Srinivasan M, Jones GP (2019) Coral reef habitats and their influence on reef assemblages. In: Hutchings P, Kingsford M, Hoegh-Guldberg O (eds) Great Barrier Reef: Biology, Environment and Management. CSIRO Publishing and CRC Press, Melbourne, Australia,
Kingsford MJ (2009) Contrasting patterns of reef utilization and recruitment of coral trout (Plectropomus leopardus) and snapper (Lutjanus carponotatus) at One Tree Island, southern Great Barrier Reef. Coral Reefs 28:251–264. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-008-0421-4
Kritzer JP (2004) Sex-specific growth and mortality, spawning season, and female maturation of the stripery bass (Lutjanus carponotatus) on the Great Barrier Reef. Fish Bull 102:94–107
Langlois TJ, Newman SJ, Cappo M, Harvey ES, Rome BM, Skepper CL, Wakefield CB (2015) Length selectivity of commercial fish traps assessed from in situ comparisons with stereo-video: Is there evidence of sampling bias? Fish Res 161:145–155. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fishres.2014.06.008
Leigh GM, Campbell AB, Lunow CP, O’Neil MF (2014) Stock assessment of the Queensland east coast common coral trout (Plectropomus leopardus) fishery. Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, Brisbane
Lester SE, Halpern BS (2008) Biological responses in marine no-take reserves versus partially protected areas. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 367:49–56. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07599
Malcolm HA et al (2018) Targeted fishes are larger and more abundant in “no-take” areas in a subtropical marine park. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 212:118–127. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2018.07.003
Mapstone BD, Carlos G, Lunow CP, Reid AE (2004) Uncertainty in length measurements of live coral trout: implications for compliance to and enforcement of minimum legal size limits vol technical report No 54. CRC Reef Research Centre, Townsville
McCook LJ et al (2010) Adaptive management of the Great Barrier Reef: a globally significant demonstration of the benefits of networks of marine reserves. P Natl Acad Sci 107:18278–18285. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0909335107
Nash KL, Graham NAJ, Wilson SK, Bellwood DR (2013) Cross-scale habitat structure drives fish body size distributions on coral reefs. Ecosystems 16:478–490. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-012-9625-0
Newman SJ, Williams DM (1996) Variation in reef associated assemblages of the Lutjanidae and Lethrinidae at different distances offshore in the central Great Barrier Reef. Environ Biol Fish 46:123–138
Parker D, Winker H, Bernard ATF, Heyns-Veale ER, Langlois TJ, Harvey ES, Gotz A (2016) Insights from baited video sampling of temperate reef fishes: how biased are angling surveys? Fish Res 179:191–201. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fishres.2016.02.025
R Core Team (2018) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. . R Foundation for Statistical Computing. URL https://www.R-project.org/
Russ GR (1984) Distribution and abundance of herbivorous grazing fishes in the central Great Barrier Reef. I. Levels of variability across the entire continental shelf. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 20:23–34
Russ GR, Alcala AC, Maypa AP, Calumpong HP, White AT (2004) Marine reserve benefits local fisheries. Ecol Appl 14:597–606
Russ GR, Cheal AJ, Dolman AM, Emslie MJ, Evans RD, Miller I, Sweatman H, Williamson DH (2008) Rapid increase in fish numbers follows creation of world’s largest marine reserve network. Curr Biol 18:R514–R515
Sciberras M, Jenkins SR, Mant R, Kaiser MJ, Hawkins SJ, Pullin AS (2015) Evaluating the relative conservation value of fully and partially protected marine areas. Fish Fish 16:58–77. https://doi.org/10.1111/faf.12044
Skinner C, Newman SP, Box S, Narozanski A, Polunin NVC (2019) Chronic spearfishing may indirectly affect reef health through reductions in parrotfish bite rates. J Fish Biol 94:585–594. https://doi.org/10.1111/jfb.13939
Srinivasan M (2003) Depth distributions of coral reef fishes: the influence of microhabitat structure, settlement, and post-settlement processes. Oecologia 137:76–84. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-003-1320-6
Stowar M, De’ath G, Doherty P, Johansson C, Speare P, Venebles B (2008) Influence of zoning on midshelf shoals of the southern great barrier reef report to the marine and tropical sciences research facility. Reef and Rainforest Research Centre Limited, Cairns
Thiault L et al (2020) Predicting poaching risk in marine protected areas for improved patrol efficiency. J Environ Manage 254:9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2019.109808
Webley J, McInnes K, Tiexeira D, Lawson A, Quinn R (2015) Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey 2013–14. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries,
Weekers DP, Zahnow R (2019) Risky facilities: Analysis of illegal recreational fishing in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Australia. Aust N Z J Criminol 52:368–389. https://doi.org/10.1177/0004865818804021
Wenger AS, Williamson DH, da Silva ET, Ceccarelli DM, Browne NK, Petus C, Devlin MJ (2016) Effects of reduced water quality on coral reefs in and out of no-take marine reserves. Conserv Biol 30:142–153. https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.12576
Williams DM (1982) Patterns in the distribution of fish communities across the Central Great Barrier Reef. Coral Reefs 1:35–43. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf00286538
Williamson DH, Ceccarelli DM, Jones GP, Russ GR (2019) Assessing the ecological effects of management zoning on inshore reefs of the great barrier reef marine park reef 2050 integrated monitoring and reporting program milestone report 2. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Townsville
Williamson DH, Russ GR, Ayling AM (2004) No-take marine reserves increase abundance and biomass of reef fish on inshore fringing reefs of the Great Barrier Reef. Environ Conserv 31:149–159. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0376892904001262
Wilson SK et al (2008) Exploitation and habitat degradation as agents of change within coral reef fish communities. Glob Change Biol 14:2796–2809
Zupan M, Fragkopoulou E, Claudet J, Erzini K, Costa BHE, Goncalves EJ (2018) Marine partially protected areas: drivers of ecological effectiveness. Front Ecol Environ 16:381–387. https://doi.org/10.1002/fee.1934
The authors would like to thank Mark O’Callaghan for assistance with field work, Marcus Stowar and Colin Simpindorfer for the provision of research equipment, and Mike Cappo, Leanne Currey, and Gavin Ericson for technical expertise, software, and statistical advice. We thank Rhonda Banks for assistance with mapping.
Funding was provided from an Advance Queensland Research Fellowship to A.E. Hall, in conjunction with funding from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and James Cook University. The project was co-funded by an ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies fund provided to M.J. Kingsford.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
This research was conducted with approval from the James Cook Univiersity Animal Ethics Committee #A2438.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
About this article
Cite this article
Hall, A.E., Cameron, D.S. & Kingsford, M.J. Partially protected areas as a management tool on inshore reefs. Rev Fish Biol Fisheries (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11160-021-09654-y
- Fish assemblages
- Great Barrier Reef
- Marine Protected Area