NOAA researchers recently publishedAn Integrated Biogeographic Assessment of Reef Fish Populations and Fisheries in Dry Tortugas: Effects of No-take Reserves,an analysis of both biological and socioeconomic changes resulting from the remote Florida marine reserve during its first five years.
The report indicates that there seemed to be an early increase in certain fish species within a few years, a sign that the reserve was working. It also notes that despite losing valuable fishing grounds, people employed in commercial fishing activities in the area did not experience any short-term financial losses. Local charter fishing and dive operators seemed to neither benefit nor lose out from the reserve the National Park Service established in 2001.
The integration and analysis of historical and current biological, physical, and economic data represents the first effort to evaluate the impact reserve designation has on both the living marine resources of the Tortugas region and the people whose livelihoods are connected to them.
The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and Office of National Marine Sanctuaries contributed to this report.