|Effects of fisheries closures and gear restrictions on fishing income in a Kenyan coral reef|
In: Conservation Biology. Wiley: Boston, Mass.. ISSN 0888-8892; e-ISSN 1523-1739
coral reef, cost-benefit analyses, economic incentives, Indian Ocean, marine protected areas, spillover, valuation of closures
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The adoption of fisheries closures and gear restrictions in the conservation of coral reefs may be limited by poor understanding of the economic profitability of competing economic uses of marine resources. Over the past 12 years, I evaluated the effects of gear regulation and fisheries closures on per person and per area incomes from fishing in coral reefs of Kenya. In two of my study areas, the use of small-meshed beach seines was stopped after 6 years; one of these areas was next to a fishery closure. In my third study area, fishing was unregulated. Fishing yields on per capita daily wet weight basis were 20% higher after seine-net fishing was stopped. The per person daily fishing income adjacent to the closed areas was 14 and 22% higher than the fishing income at areas with only gear restrictions before and after the seine-net restriction, respectively. Incomes differed because larger fish were captured next to the closed area and the price per weight (kilograms) increased as fish size increased and because catches adjacent to the closure contained fish species of higher market value. Per capita incomes were 41 and 135% higher for those who fished in gear-restricted areas and near-closed areas, respectively, compared with those who fished areas with no restrictions. On a per unit area basis (square kilometers), differences in fishing income among the three areas were not large because fishing effort increased as the number of restrictions decreased. Changes in catch were, however, larger and often in the opposite direction expected from changes in effort alone. For example, effort declined 21% but nominal profits per square kilometer (not accounting for inflation) increased 29% near the area with gear restrictions. Gear restrictions also reduced the cost of fishing and increased the proportion of self-employed fishers.