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Evidence of rebound effect in New Zealand MPAs: Unintended consequences of spatial management measures

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Fabrice StephensonORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2023 The Authors. Fish size and fish biomass have been shown to increase inside the borders of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) after the cessation of fishing. However, the effects of marine protection on fishing fleet behaviour and fish catches outside of MPAs are less well understood. Here we investigated changes in total catch and Catch per Unit Effort (CPUE) of bottom trawlers outside the borders of offshore MPAs in New Zealand. We used Regression Discontinuity in Time (before versus after protection) on both aggregate and individual trawl event data for one Marine Reserve, two Benthic Protected Areas, one Closed Seamount Area and one Marine Mammal Sanctuary. Despite the various forms of protection that reduce the total fishable area, total catch tended to increase after MPA implementation. Yet, there was little evidence that this was due to the net-movement of fish from larger populations within MPA boundaries i.e. spillover. Rather, the increases in catch in the post protection period appeared to be a consequence of changes in the behaviours of commercial fishers. This may be an unintended and previously unreported negative consequence of marine protection that could dampen some of the many benefits of MPAs.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lohrer T, Hewitt JE, Lohrer AM, Parsons DM, Ellis JI, Stephenson F

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Ocean and Coastal Management

Year: 2023

Volume: 239

Print publication date: 15/05/2023

Online publication date: 23/04/2023

Acceptance date: 28/03/2023

Date deposited: 22/11/2023

ISSN (print): 0964-5691

ISSN (electronic): 1873-524X

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2023.106595


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Funder referenceFunder name
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)
Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge project, New Zealand