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Effects of reserve protection level on the vulnerable fish species Sciaena umbra and implications for fishing management and policy

Abstract : The brown meagre Sciaena umbra, an iconic demersal fish species in Mediterranean coastal habitats, is particularly vulnerable to fishing pressure and presents a worrying population decline. Fish numbers and sizes were surveyed by visual census at Scandola (Corsica) in and outside reserve zones subject to increasing levels of protection, including unprotected zones (UP) where all fishing activities are permitted, buffer zones (BZ) subject to partial protection and a totally protected no-take integral reserve zone (IR). The numerical abundance, individual size and biomass of the brown meagre were found to increase with levels of reserve protection. The abundance of the larger size classes and the numbers of fish per shoal were significantly lower in unprotected zones. A comparison with similar censuses performed in 1983 showed a significant increase of S. umbra abundance in IR, but no difference in UP. That increasing levels of protection resulted in increased abundance and biomass of the brown meagre suggested a prominent role of fishing, particularly spearfishing, activities in the persistence of its low abundance in the unprotected zones. As a consequence, protective action for the brown meagre (including a ban on both spearfishing and recreational hook-and-line fishing) has been introduced in France since January 2014.
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Mireille Harmelin-Vivien, Jean-Michel Cottalorda, Jean-Marie Dominici, Jean-Georges Harmelin, Laurence Le Diréach, et al.. Effects of reserve protection level on the vulnerable fish species Sciaena umbra and implications for fishing management and policy. Global Ecology and Conservation, Elsevier, 2015, 3, pp.279-287. ⟨10.1016/j.gecco.2014.12.005⟩. ⟨insu-03042947⟩

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