Modelling the effects of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) on the southern rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii) fishery of Victoria, Australia

David Hobday, André E. Punt, David C. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Since 2002, 5.3% of the Victorian coastal waters have been declared as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). These are aimed at safeguarding important marine habitats and species, significant natural features, and areas of cultural heritage and aesthetic value. However, MPAs impact the fishery for southern rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii), as total allowable catches (TACs) were previously set to allow the biomass to recover to pre-specified target levels. The model on which assessments and risk analyses are based is extended to include the impact of MPAs. The MPAs and the area open to fishing are modelled as subpopulations with different levels of mortality and consequently different density and population size-structure. A range for the probability of a lobster moving from a MPA to the fished area from 0 to 15% is considered, based on the results of tagging studies. The reduction of biomass available to the commercial fishery because of the introduction of MPAs is estimated to be 8% and 16% (Western and Eastern Zones) respectively. The results of a risk assessment show that if the current TACs are maintained, the time to increase the biomass available to the commercial fishery by 50% would be delayed 5–9 years in the Western Zone and 1–4 years in the Eastern Zone because of the impact of displaced effort. In contrast, spawning biomass in the Eastern Zone is currently below the agreed limit reference point, and the introduction of MPAs would enhance the rate of recovery, although only marginally initially, faster than the absence of the MPAs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-686
Number of pages12
JournalNew Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Marine Protected Area
  • Marine Reserve
  • Modelling
  • Reference points
  • Risk assessment
  • Rock lobster
  • Spiny lobster


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