Helping to restore and maintain fish stocks
Marine fisheries contribute to the food supply, economy, and health of many nations. Seafood products are among the most widely traded commodities, worth billions of dollars annually, while fisheries directly employ over 38 million people. In addition, one billion people rely on marine fish as an important source of protein.
However, massive overfishing
has resulted in over 75% of the world’s fisheries now being fully exploited, overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion. This grave situation threatens food security and livelihoods around the world.
By protecting spawning grounds, nursery grounds, and other important fish habitats, marine protected areas (MPAs) can help reverse this by providing essential safe havens where young fish can grow to maturity and reproduce before they are caught.
Allowing fish to grow large within MPAs has another benefit – big fish produce more eggs. And decreased fishing mortality in protected areas leads to spillover of fish into surrounding areas, and so more fish to catch in these areas.
MPAs can also be established as fisheries management tools to help with the sustainable management of fish stocks, or with their restoration. Such fisheries MPAs can be permanent or non-permanent, gear type specific, fish species specific, and/or vessel type or size specific.