Designing marine reserves for fishery management

Geoffrey A. Meester, Anuj Mehrotra, Jerald S. Ault, Edward K. Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Recent reports have raised serious concerns about the rapid declines of historically productive marine fishery resources and the degradation of essential fish habitats. This global crisis has spurred development of innovative management strategies to rebuild depleted fisheries and marine ecosystems. One highly touted strategy involves the design and creation of marine reserves (areas off limits to extractive uses) to rebuild fisheries and conserve marine biodiversity. In this paper, we propose an integrated sequence of methodologies that provides an objective, quantitative framework for the design of marine reserves in spatially heterogeneous coastal ocean environments. The marine reserve designs proposed here satisfy the multiple, often-conflicting criteria of disparate resource user groups. This research is the first attempt to explicitly explore the trade-off between the conservation goals of fishery management and coral reef protection and the consumptive interests of commercial and recreational fishing fleets. The spatial distribution and size abundance of reef fish stocks throughout the Florida Keys coral reef ecosystem were estimated from a database consisting of more than 18,000 visual samples taken from 1979 to 2002. These distributions of multispecies abundance and biomass, in conjunction with a geographic database of coral reef habitats, are used to demonstrate an integer goal programming methodology for the design of networks of marine reserves, called plans. Once multiple plans are proposed, a simulation model is used to assess the effects of reserve size and shape on select Florida Keys reef fish populations under dynamic spatial and temporal conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1031-1043
Number of pages13
JournalManagement science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2004


  • Fisheries management
  • Florida keys
  • Integer goal programming
  • Marine reserves
  • Simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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