Letter to the Editor: Use of MPAs should be flexible, not rigid

MPA News

Dear MPA News:

The article "Protecting the Spawning and Nursery Habitats of Fish" in your August issue (MPA News 8:2) cast a refreshing light on design of MPAs. Here we read about the skillful use of a variety of management tools instead of the single-solution approach of the rigid "no-take area", which requires little or no science.

The article suggests flexible use of tools such as seasonal closures to protect spawning aggregations and stresses that "the appropriate measures depend on the biology of the species, nature of the fishery, and local management and social contexts." Identification of mangrove sites "with unusually large importance to reefs" also sounds good. Adequate research combined with strategic use of flexible management tools can pave the way to a bright future for MPAs.

John R. Clark
281 West Indies Drive, Ramrod Key, FL 33042, USA. Tel: +1 305 872 4114; E-mail: JohnRClarkX [at] cs.com

[Editor's note: John R. Clark is co-author, with Rodney Salm and Erkki Siirila, of Marine and Coastal Protected Areas: A Guide for Planners and Managers (IUCN 2000).]