Hu, L.M.; Wroblewski, J.S. (2009). Conserving a subpopulation of the northern Atlantic cod metapopulation with a marine protected area. Aquatic Conservation-marine And Freshwater Ecosystems. 19 (2) 178-193.
1. Marine reserves can play an important role in the conservation of subpopulations of marine fish metapopulations. The population spatial structure of northern Atlantic cod of Newfoundland and Labrador has characteristics of a metapopulation. Subpopulations of northern Atlantic cod on the continental shelf were decimated by decades of overfishing, and have not recovered. The remaining northern cod are concentrated in coastal areas.
2. A Marine Protected Area (MPA) was established in Gilbert Bay, Labrador by the Government of Canada in 2005 to protect the bay's resident subpopulation of northern Atlantic cod. Conservation of Gilbert Bay cod will help protect the genetic diversity of the northern cod metapopulation.
3. Unlike some other MPAs, Gilbert Bay is not a harvest refugium or 'no-take' reserve. Aboriginal Subsistence fisheries for salmonids with a bycatch of cod are allowed in designated areas of the MPA. A recreational fishery for Atlantic cod by angling open to all people is under consideration. Management of the MPA must ensure that fishing activities do not endanger the local cod population.
4. The population dynamics of Gilbert Bay cod were simulated using an age-structured Leslie matrix model to estimate the total mortality under various recreational fishing scenarios. The level of sustainable harvest by a recreational fishery depends on the natural mortality of the Gilbert Bay cod population, which is unknown. Therefore, there is risk in permitting a recreational fishery in the MPA.
5. There may be benefits to the northern cod metapopulation, if the Gilbert Bay subpopulation is allowed to rebuild to the carrying capacity of the bay. If the abundance of Gilbert Bay cod exceeds the level which the local marine ecosystem can support, some cod may emigrate from the bay and recolonize adjacent coastal areas. The potential for Gilbert Bay cod to recolonize continental shelf areas is less certain. Copyright (C) 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.