Thursday, 18 July 2013

Fiji Marine reserve ‘swarming with sharks’

Study by WCS and University of Western Australia finds reef sharks two to four times more abundant in a marine reserve compared to nearby fished areas

July 2013. Fiji's largest marine reserve contains more sharks than surrounding areas that allow fishing, evidence that marine protected areas can be good for sharks, according to researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Western Australia.

2-400% more sharks
In a study of the no-take reserve's shark populations, the researchers found that the number of sharks in Namena Reserve-located on the southern coast of Fiji's Vanua Levu Island-is two to four times greater than in adjacent areas where fishing is permitted.

The researchers conducted their study during a three-week period in 2009 in Namena, a 60-square-kilometer reserve established in 1997 and managed by local communities. In order to survey the sharks, Goetze and the WCS Fiji team used stereo baited remote underwater video systems to record data at eight sites within the reserve and eight outside the reserve at both shallow and deeper depths (between 5-8 metres, and 25-30 metres respectively).

"The study not only provides evidence that Fiji's largest marine reserve benefits reef sharks, but achieves this in a non-destructive manner using novel stereo video technology," said Goetze, the lead author of the paper.

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