Establish long-term fishery closures
Overall effectiveness category Awaiting assessment
Number of studies: 4
Background information and definitions
Long-term closure of fisheries can be established to protect one or more species of key commercially harvested fish that have suffered continued overexploitation. They differ from other area-based closures based either on gear type(s) alone or those implemented in marine protected areas. This is because they generally apply to only one target fishery/species whilst often allowing other commercial fisheries to operate. In addition, closures of target fisheries do not involve legal protection of the seabed/habitat and may thus be more adaptive and easier to impose or even remove, particularly in response to a recovery of the target fish stock. Long-term fishery closures may be applied to protect commercial/harvested species year-round for an indefinite period. They may help depleted populations of fish to recover by reducing the fishing effort and thus mortality exerted upon them.
Evidence for a related intervention is summarized under ‘Establish temporary fishery closures'. See also ‘Cease or prohibit all (mobile and static) fishing gears that catch bottom (demersal) species’.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated, before-and-after study in 1980–1994 of four Norwegian rivers draining to the Norwegian Sea (Jensen et al. 1999) found that in the five years following a long-term ban on a coastal drift net fishery for Atlantic salmon Salmo salar, there were increases in the catch abundance and weights of young (one-sea winter) salmon returning to rivers, but fewer changes for multi-sea-winter salmon. In three of four rivers, overall numbers of grilse (young salmon returning from the sea to fresh water for the first time) were higher in the five years after the ban (after: 500–4,000 fish, before: 80–1,200 fish) and numbers of older, multi-sea-winter salmon were similar (after: 50–3,200 fish, before: 50–3,200 fish). Average weight of grilse increased in all four rivers (after: 1,714–2,340 g, before: 1,558–1,996 g), whereas two-sea-winter salmon weights decreased in two (after: 5,769–6,211 g, before: 6,500–6,988 g) and there were no changes for three-sea-winter salmon (after: 9,075–10,764 g, before: 8,938–10,752 g). In addition, effects of the ban on salmon populations returning to four Russian rivers (outside of the ban area) were found for three rivers draining to the Barents Sea, but not for one draining to the White Sea (see paper for data). A total ban on sea fishing for salmon using drift nets was introduced in Norway in 1989, while other methods such as bag and bend nets continued. Data on catches of salmon (mainly rod and line) for four Norwegian rivers (Repparfjord, Alta, Namsen, Stryn) from 1980–1994 were taken from Norwegian Official Statistics.Study and other actions tested
Referenced paperJensen A.J., Zubchenko A.V., Heggberget T.G., Hvidsten N.A., Johnsen B.O., Kuzmin O., Loesnko A.A., Lund R.A., Martynov V.G., Nꬱsje T.F., Sharov A.F. & Økland F. (1999) Cessation of the Norwegian drift net fishery: changes observed in Norwegian and Russian populations of Atlantic salmon. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 56, 84-95.
A replicated, controlled, before-and-after study in 1997–2003 of a seabed area in the North Sea, Scotland, UK (Greenstreet et al. 2006) found that in the three years after long-term closure of a commercial fishery for lesser sandeel Ammodytes marinus there was a peak but no overall increase in the biomass and density of sandeel, overall fishing effort was reduced and catch rates varied. The annual biomass of the two youngest groups of sandeel (young of the year and 1+ year) peaked during the closure (2000–2003) compared to the previous three years, but no overall statistical difference was found between periods (after: 0–233,000 t, before: 0–50,000 t). Similarly, sandeel density peaked in the first year after closure (after: 7–48 fish/m2, before: 4–42 m2), but was not statistically different. Fishing effort was reduced each year during the closure (after: 25–50 d, before: 80–280 d) but estimates of catch rates varied (after: 50–190 t/day, 55–130 t/day). In 2000, the sandeel fishery off south-east Scotland was closed indefinitely in response to concerns that seabird colonies were declining from lack of fish prey. Sandeel biomass estimates were derived from acoustic (six transects) and bottom trawl surveys (19 deployments) from a commercial vessel between May–July 1998–2003. Density data were collected from 137–195 grab deployments done each year, and fishing effort and catch data were derived from official fisheries statistics for the Danish commercial sandeel fishery.Study and other actions tested
Referenced paperGreenstreet S.P.R., Armstrong E., Mosegaard H., Jensen H., Gibb I.M., Fraser H.M., Scott B.E., Holland G.J. & Sharples J. (2006) Variation in the abundance of sandeels Ammodytes marinus off southeast Scotland: an evaluation of area-closure fisheries management and stock abundance assessment methods. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 63, 1530-1550.
A site comparison study in 2004–2005 of two areas of mud and gravel seabed in the Gulf of Maine, USA (3) found that year-round closure of an area to fisheries targeting bottom-dwelling fish (groundfish) for six to seven years, resulted in lower abundance and size of monkfish Lophius americanus abundance inside the closure area compared to outside, feeding intensity varied and condition was similar. Overall, monkfish abundance and size were lower inside the closure area than outside (data reported as statistical model results). The abundance of larger monkfish (401–800 mm) was similar inside compared to outside (inside: 0.3–0.8 fish/tow, outside: 0.3–1.2 fish/tow), but was lower for monkfish between 0–400 mm (inside: 0.3–0.8 fish/tow, outside: 1.3–2.7/tow). Stomach fullness of adult monkfish was higher inside (10 g/mm3), than outside (6 g/mm3), but juvenile (<300 mm) stomach fullness was similar (inside: 8 g/mm3, outside: 11 g/mm3). Monkfish condition was similar across protection levels (data reported as statistical model results). In addition, monkfish feeding intensity and condition were generally more strongly affected by habitat type than the closure. In autumn 2004 and spring 2005, a total of 32 otter trawl deployments were conducted at paired sampling sites, rock/cobble edge and mud, inside and outside, of the Western Gulf of Maine Closure Area. The area was closed to groundfish fishing in 1998, initially to reduce ﬁshing mortality of key groundﬁsh species such as cod. Monkfish were counted, lengths measured, weighed and stomach content recorded.Study and other actions tested
A site comparison study in 2008 at two reefs in the Bismark Sea, Papua New Guinea (4) found that long-term closure of areas to traditional fisheries (those with customary fishing rights) resulted in greater abundance of only one of seven species compared to fished areas after eight years, and the flight response of six species decreased. Striated surgeonfish Ctenochaetus striatus were more abundant inside closed areas compared to fished areas (closed: 47, open: 25 fish/1,000 m2), but abundances of the other six species (orange-lined triggerfish Balistapus undulatus, Bleeker’s parrotfish Chlorurus bleekeri, daisy parrotfish Chlorurus sordidus, yellowbarred parrotfish Scarus dimidiatus, dusky parrotfish Scarus niger, and humpback red snapper Lutjanus gibbus) were similar (inside: 1–31, outside: 1–14 fish/1,000 m2). In addition, flight response of all but one species (humpback red snapper) inside the closure area was shorter (closed: 131–365 cm, open: 207–551 cm), making them more vulnerable to capture by spear guns (range 1.3 to 3.1 m). Fish were surveyed on reefs off Karkar Island inside and outside one site (0.5 km2) that at the time of the study had been closed to customary fishing (using spear guns and hand lines as primary gear types) for 8 years, with the exception of a 2-week period during which it was opened to fishing for a ceremonial feast (details of when sampling took place were not reported). The community maintains a customary system of reef management where a portion of the reefs is closed for several years when the clan chiefs decide fish are staying out of the range of spear guns. Sampled reefs outside the closure area had not been closed to fishing. At five locations at each site, two, 50 × 5 m belt transects at 2–4 and 6–8 m depths were surveyed by underwater visual census. Fish flight distance was measured by placing weighted markers on a measuring tape at the start position of the fish and the final position after disturbance.Study and other actions tested