Investigating the consequences of Marine Protected Areas for the South African deep-water hake (Merluccius paradoxus) resource

Journal Article


Journal Title

ICES Journal of Marine Science

Journal ISSN
Volume Title

Oxford University Press (OUP)


University of Cape Town

Protected areas are often touted as important management tools to mitigate the uncertainty inherent in marine ecosystems, and thereby improve the long-term prospects for sustainable resource use. However, although they certainly play an important role in conservation, their usefulness in improving fishery yields is contentious. We present a simulation model that explores spatial closure options, and apply it to the demersal hake trawl fishery off South Africa. The model is based on the age-structured approach used for current assessments, representing the dynamics of the deep-water hake Merluccius paradoxus within a zonally disaggregated spatial system. Fitting the model to two zones, which demarcate a potential closed area from the remaining fished area, we investigate the consequences that such a protected area could have for the fishery. Our model suggests that area closures would have a negligible benefit for the fishery, regardless of the level of hake movement between areas. This is likely the result of the model's simplicity, and we suggest additional factors that should be considered to quantify the impact of Marine Protected Areas on the fishery more reliably.