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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A new model for evaluating the optimal size, placement and configuration of marine protected areas Beattie, Alasdair I.


Marine protected areas (MPAs) are widely cited as a useful management tool in fisheries. They have rarely been implemented, however, usually due to the uncertainty of the impacts to fisheries or the benefits to target species. This study develops a model to evaluate the optimal size and placement of MPAs, in an ecosystem context, as a step in addressing the uncertainty facing their use. The optimal size, placement and configuration of MPAs are based on maximizing an objective function that includes fishery rents and benefits to target species. The model incorporates explicit spatial movement of fishing effort and species, and can incorporate multiple fleets as well as multiple resources and species. Following the development of a test case, the model was applied to two case studies: a relatively lightly exploited ecosystem, the north and central coast of British Columbia, Canada; and an ecosystem with several key groups overexploited, the North Sea. The efficacy of MPAs as a management option for the two areas is compared. One of the key advantages of the model is its usefulness as a gaming tool. By varying a number of biological parameters and how the objective function is maximized, a variety of policy goals under a range of possible conditions can be quickly evaluated. The model appears to be a useful tool for policy exploration.

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