DNA study offers "conclusive evidence" that no-take MPAs benefit adjacent fish stocks through dispersal

Researchers reporting online on May 24 in the Cell Press journal Current Biology present the first evidence that areas closed to all fishing are helping to sustain valuable Australian fisheries. The international team of scientists applied a forensic DNA profiling approach to track the dispersal pathways of fish larvae throughout a network of marine reserves on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

"Marine reserves have been set aside to create resilient ocean ecosystems and help sustain fisheries, yet there has been little clear evidence that they can provide either," said Hugo Harrison from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University in Australia. "This study provides the first conclusive evidence that larval supply from marine reserves generates important recruitment subsidies to both fished and protected areas."

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