Inconsistent benefits of a freshwater protected area for artisanal fisheries and biodiversity in a South-east Asian wetland
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Natural Sciences / Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research
Spatial closure management is a strategy used throughout the world for a range of goals, including protecting aquatic biodiversity and promoting fish production. However, benefits of freshwater protected areas (FPAs) have seldom been assessed. The present study is, therefore, one of the few that has compared the abundances, biomass and size structure of fish species between a FPA and the adjacent fished area. Fish assemblages in a large freshwater swamp (Beung Borapet) in Thailand were sampled with fish traps to test the hypothesis that the FPA would enhance fisheries production and biodiversity. Total densities and biomass of fish did not differ or were inconsistent between FPA and the fished area, and these patterns were inconsistent among several dominant species. Only one dominant species had higher densities and biomass in the FPA, which also did not appear to result in an increase in the size of fish. The benefits of the FPA for fisheries enhancement and conservation of biodiversity are inconsistent and appear to be compromised by a combination of non-selective fishing methods, illegal fishing activities and point-source impacts from other human disturbances. Spatial management therefore needs to be tailored to the socioeconomic structure of the community, resource availability for compliance, and multiple management-agency objectives.