16 Jul 2012

Small Pacific marine reserves good for fish and fishermen alike

1:52 pm on 16 July 2012

A study by Australian scientists has discovered small marine reserves on coral reefs may provide a boost for local fishermen while also protecting fish.

Researchers from James Cook University found fish born in marine reserves make up half of all the juvenile fish found on parts of the reef which are open to fishing.

The leader of the study, Geoff Jones, says adding a marine reserve to a reef could boost the total number of fish available to catch by as much as 50 percent.

"The reserves that we have been looking at down in the Keppel Islands are not big reserves. One of them is only about 800 meters across and it's still having an effect. The benefits are local too so the same community that's setting up a reserve will be the one that benefits in terms of the boost to the fishery."

Geoff Jones says the discovery is good news for small Pacific nations where it can sometimes be difficult to protect a large area from fishing.