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Periodic Closures as Adaptive Coral Reef Management in the Indo-Pacific

Josh Cinner, James Cook University
Michael J Marnane, Wildlife Conservation Society
Timothy R McClanahan, Wildlife Conservation Society
Glenn R. Almany, James Cook University

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This study explores the social, economic, and ecological context within which communities in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia use adaptive coral reef management. We tested whether periodic closures had positive effects on reef resources, and found that both the biomass and the average size of fishes commonly caught in Indo-Pacific subsistence fisheries were greater inside areas subject to periodic closures compared to sites with year-round open access. Surprisingly, both long-lived and short-lived species benefited from periodic closures. Our study sites were remote communities that shared many socioeconomic characteristics; these may be crucial to the effectiveness of adaptive management of reef resources through periodic closures. Some of these factors include exclusive tenure over marine resources, a body of traditional ecological knowledge that allows for the rapid assessment of resource conditions, social customs that facilitate compliance with closures, relatively small human populations, negligible migration, and a relatively low dependence on fisheries. This dynamic adaptive management system, in which communities manage their resources among multiple social and ecological baselines, contrasts with western fisheries management practices, centered on maintaining exploited populations at stable levels in which net production is maximized.

Key words

adaptive management; coral reefs; socioeconomic; periodic closures; traditional management; social-ecological systems
Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087