The study assesses the conservation and fisheries benefits of the Blue Bay Marine Park in Mauritius. It addresses the question - are the higher catch rates near the Park a result of population spillovers or of reduced fishing effort in those waters due to site-specific attributes? There is no data on catches and fishing effort prior to the reserve's establishment; a bioeconomic model is used to separate the effects of spillover and effort redistribution on catch rates in waters next to the Marine Park. The area's fish populations are replicated using a dynamic age-structured model with a Beverton-Holt recruitment function, while fishing effort is predicted using a random utility model and Random Parameter Logit estimation. The bioeconomic model is characterised by two-way feedback loops between fish stocks and the geographic redistribution of fishing effort. A comparison of fish population, biomass, and catch rates in the fisheries with and without effort redistribution, suggests that the reduced fishing effort in waters near the Park, rather than spillover, is driving the increase in observed catch rates. Travel distance, variation in catch rates, depth of water and area status (lagoon vs. off-lagoon) explain the relocation of fishing effort away from the adjacent of the marine park. The study shows how site-specific characteristics affecting fisher behaviour are important in the design of marine reserves.
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