The very large changes observed within marine communities, owing to excessive harvesting, have been attributed to switches between alternative stable states. Correspondingly large reductions in overall fishing effort are usually difficult to implement. For such ‘nonlinear’ ecosystems, introducing large marine protected areas, with low to zero harvesting, but without reduction in overall fishing effort, can give a marked increase in total yield of the depleted stocks. These increases, however, are still less than can be achieved by reducing fishing effort.
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