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Effects of total fishing prohibition on the rocky fish assemblages of Medes Islands marine reserve (NW Mediterranean)
Antonio García-Rubies, Mikel Zabala

Visual scuba diving censuses were used to assess the effects of fishing prohibition on abundance and size structure of littoral fish populations by comparing the same benthic communities inside and outside the protected area of Medes Islands (NE Catalonia, Spain). The total number of species found was 43 in the reserve and 44 outside, but the mean value of species richness per sampling station was significantly higher in the protected area. However, diversity, heavily affected by the presence or absence of large schools of pelagic species, showed no significant differences between sites. The prohibition of fishing for 6 years is the first factor affecting the qualitative and quantitative structure of fish populations ("reserve effect"), and depth is the second factor. Thus, except in the cases of Serranus cabrilla and Mullus surmuletus, all other vulnerable species are highly sensitive to the protection measures. The size structure of all vulnerable species was found to be absolutely different at the reserve sites than in the unprotected zones, and the modal size classes of size frequency distributions were always higher in the reserve than outside. The reserve effect was significantly responsible of the differences observed in this change on size structure. Some highly vulnerable species, such as Epinephelus guaza and Sciaena umbra, have only been found in the protected area. Others, such as Sparus aurata, Diplodus cervinus and Dicentrarchus labrax, were much more frequent inside the reserve.

Keywords: Fishing prohibition, rocky fish, Medes Islands, NW Mediterranean.
Contents of this volume Sci. Mar. 54(4) : 317-328 Back PDF
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