Paradox of marine protected areas: suppression of fishing may cause species loss

Model Description

This is a simple model of a prey–predator system in two areas, one of which receives fishing activity (fishing ground) and another that does not (MPA: marine protected area). Takashina et al. 2012 gives the following description of the model. "A number of fish and invertebrate stocks have been depleted by overexploitation in recent years. To address this, marine protected areas (MPAs) are often established to protect biodiversity and recover stocks. We analyzed the potential impact of establishing MPAs on marine ecosystems using mathematical models. We demonstrate that establishment of an MPA can sometimes result in a considerable decline, or even extinction, of a species. We focus on a prey–predator system in two patches, one exposed to fishing activity and the other protected (MPA). Our analyses reveal that the establishment of the MPA can cause a reduction in prey abundance, and even extinction of the prey. Such unintended consequences are more likely to occur if the predator species is a generalist and if the MPA is intended to protect only the predatory species".


Takashina, N., Mougi, A., & Iwasa, Y. (2012). Paradox of marine protected areas: suppression of fishing may cause species loss. Population Ecology, 54(3), 475-485. doi:10.1007/s10144-012-0323-8

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