Review Paper. Matching marine reserve design to reserve objectives

Benjamin S. Halpern, Robert R. Warner


Recent interest in using marine reserves for marine resource management and conservation has largely been driven by the hope that reserves might counteract declines in fish populations and protect the biodiversity of the seas. However, the creation of reserves has led to dissension from some interested groups, such as fishermen, who fear that reserves will do more harm than good. These perceived differences in the effect of marine reserves on various stakeholder interests has led to a contentious debate over their merit. We argue here that recent findings in marine ecology suggest that this debate is largely unnecessary, and that a single general design of a network of reserves of moderate size and variable spacing can meet the needs and goals of most stakeholders interested in marine resources.