Value of coastal habitats to commercial fisheries in Jersey, English Channel, and the role of marine protected areas
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Fisheries are in decline worldwide, and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are being advocated as tools that can not only protect and restore biodiversity but also improve fisheries sustainability and protect fisher livelihoods. To understand the role of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in underpinning commercial fisheries, this study demonstrates the economic value of Jersey's benthic substrates (habitats) for five predominant species fished by Jersey and French vessels: Homarus gammarus, Cancer pagurus, Maja brachydactyla, Pecten maximus and Buccinum undatum. Value was apportioned between habitats that support these commercial species across their essential life history stages, and the proportional economic value that was protected from bottom-towed fishing within MPAs was analysed. Multiple habitats across Jersey's territorial waters contributed a total economic value of £14,664,729, with £4,127,999 protected within MPAs. Overall, subtidal sediment was the most valuable habitat to both Jersey (£2.12 million) and French (£2.47 million) fisheries but was also the least protected habitat from bottom-towed fishing (2.73%). Our findings support an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management and emphasise the importance of considering species life histories, and their habitat requirements, in management plans.
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