Coral reef ecosystems have been declining at an alarming rate during recent decades, despite increasing numbers of marine protected areas (MPAs) encompassing coral reefs. However, many MPAs have not met reserve objectives, inhibiting effective protection. This study focuses on the potential effectiveness of a Hotel Managed Marine Reserve (HMMR) at enhancing reef fish stocks. Biannual visual fish census surveys were conducted at two marine reserves adjacent to Whale Island Resort, Vietnam, October 2005 to April 2007. The 6-year protected Whale Island Bay Reserve (11 ha) showed significantly higher fish densities, richness, average size, and number of fish >15 cm compared with two unprotected control sites. Fish stocks at a second newer reserve, Whale Island Bay Peninsula (5 ha), quickly increased after protection. This study has demonstrated the effectiveness of HMMRs, suggesting a global network of such privately managed reserves could play a part in the conservation of the world's coastal resources, while alleviating financial pressure on governments.
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Vol. 38 • No. 2