Fish communities are a key component of the aquatic ecosystem and may act as biological indicators for marine coastal waters.
This study assessed, using fish data collected in situ with underwater visual census, the efficacy of a Mediterranean marine protected area (MPA; National Marine Park of Zakynthos, NMPZ, Ionian Sea) that implements a seasonal no-take zone as part of its management scheme.
The sampling was conducted in two habitat types that occur at sites of different protection level with respect to fisheries. The obtained data were used to examine the effects of protection level and habitat type on community parameters, trophic structure and functional diversity of fish populations that occupy the upper sublittoral zone.
The results show that overall, habitat type had a more pronounced effect than protection level on all investigated parameters.
The authors state that, conducted 8 years after the initial implementation of the seasonal no-take management scheme, the study suggests that existing fishing regulations in the NMPZ provide some measurable effects, but fall short of maintaining sufficient protection for the recovery of apex predators or other commercially important fish species.
It is concluded that a revision of the existing zoning system to include permanent no-take zones, alongside the regulation of professional fishing and all extractive activities in the rest of the MPA, are strongly encouraged in order to enhance the effectiveness of fisheries management.
Dimitriadis C, Sini M, Trygonis V, Gerovasileiou V, Sourbès L, Koutsoubas D (2018) Assessment of fish communities in a Mediterranean MPA: Can a seasonal no-take zone provide effective protection? Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 207:223-231.