Monday, 23 October 2017

Snapper family ties provide new evidence on marine reserves

October 18, 2017 by Anne Beston

A higher proportion of young snapper in fishing areas north of Auckland are related to adult snapper from the Goat Island Marine Reserve, confirming what scientists have long suspected: the reserve acts as a giant snapper nursery.

The new study from the University of Auckland's Institute of Marine Science is the first time scientists have studied a temperate commercial fishing species to find evidence of a direct parental link between adults in a marine protected area to juveniles outside.

Led by Professor John Montgomery, Dr Shane Lavery, and former University of Auckland postdoctoral fellow Dr Agnès Le Port, the research team used a combination of genetic testing and hydrodynamic modelling of snapper larvae.

They found at least 11 percent of juvenile snapper up to 40km away were the offspring of spawning adults from the reserve at Leigh north of Auckland, whereas no offspring matches were found to adult snapper sampled from non-reserve areas.

"The contribution from the reserve is about 10 times higher than would be expected if snapper larval contribution was simply proportional to geographic area," Professor Montgomery says.
An area of 400 square kilometres was included in the study, from Mangawhai in the north to Mahurangi in the south. Goat Island Marine Reserve makes up just 1.3 percent of the area studied. It is a 'no take' marine reserve meaning fishing is strictly prohibited.

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