Alternate Title

Comparisons of Caribbean Spiny Lobster and Queen Conch Populations in Coastal Marine Reserves of Belize over 15 Years

Document Type



Many coastal fisheries are increasingly reliant on marine protected areas (MPAs) as a fishery management strategy. However, the efficacy of any particular MPA depends on a complex suite of factors. This study investigates whether Caribbean spiny lobster Panulirus argus and queen conch Lobatus gigas abundance, mean size, and fishery productivity changed in MPAs over 15 years of increasing effective enforcement. A before-after control-impact design was used to analyze differences between years in the same protected and fished sampling sites. Catch-per-unit-effort was higher for both species in protected than fished zones, but there were no significant changes between 2001 and 2016. Mean conch size declined in most protected and fished areas between years, whereas mean lobster size was consistently higher in most protected areas. The proportions of fishery legal-sized animals were also higher overall in most protected areas but varied in the different reserves. A number of factors may operate to produce these results, including differences in MPA size and habitat area, differences in recruitment dynamics, and density dependence at habitat limits.

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Acosta et al. Supplemental File 1.pdf (254 kB)
Supplemental File 1

Acosta et al. Supplemental file 2.pdf (3321 kB)
Supplemental File 2