The effectiveness of rotating marine protected areas (MPAs) in fisheries management: a case study of the NC hard clam fishery Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • McDaniel, Eileen M.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Curriculum in Environment and Ecology
  • For successful conservation, traditional fisheries management such as restrictions on gear and catch size must be combined with the designation of Marine Protected Areas, or MPAs. Scientific research has demonstrated that MPAs have restored populations of fish and shellfish that they protect. Because permanently closing off areas to harvest is likely to be contested by user groups, MPAs that are temporally and spatially rotated are more practical than permanent closures, because the boundaries are more likely to be respected, yet biological benefits still can be achieved. I have performed a fishery-independent study to evaluate the success of a management strategy implemented by the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries in the hard clam (Mercenaria mercenaria) fishery in Carteret County, NC, in which MPAs were rotated between Core and Pamlico Sounds. Clam harvesting is efficiently performed in this area by a unique mechanical technique called clam kicking. The clam kicking rotation plan was a successful management strategy for the hard clam fishery in the study area. Rotating MPAs was more acceptable to fishermen because they were opposed to permanently relinquishing valuable clamming grounds. The trade-off of opening a previously closed area in Pamlico Sound with closing the historically productive but overharvested area in Core Sound was effective in not only increasing clam abundances in the newly protected area in Core Sound, but also in increasing the overall productivity of the fishery. From 2001 to 2003, overall productivity of the fishery in Core and Pamlico Sounds increased by 70%, while the productivity of the state fishery declined by at least 30%.
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  • In Copyright
  • Peterson, Charles
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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