Effects of marine reserve protection at goat island, northern New Zealand

Russell G. Cole, Tony M. Ayling, Robert G. Creese

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93 Citations (Scopus)


The possible effects that marine reserve protection has had on densities of some reef fish and large invertebrates were investigated near Leigh (north‐eastern New Zealand) by a series of sampling programmes between 1976 and 1988. Fish counts at intervals during the 6 years after the initial establishment of the Cape Rodney to Okakari Point Marine Reserve in 1975 suggested that red moki (Cheilodactylus spectabilis) had increased in abundance whereas five others had remained at approximately constant densities. A comparison of data between 1978 and 1988 also revealed few consistent differences in fish abundances. A detailed survey in 1988 between sites inside and outside the marine reserve showed no clear patterns for sea urchins (Evechinus chloroticus) and several fish; trends for increased abundances in the marine reserve of fish such as snapper Pagrus (=Chrysophrys) auratus, blue cod (Parapercis colias), and red moki; a very striking increase in numbers of rock lobsters (Jasus edwardsii) within the marine reserve; and an obvious trend for increased size of snapper in the marine reserve. Most of the trends, however, were not statistically significant, owing largely to the low power of the tests used. Although it is now generally accepted that the creation of marine reserves such as the one at Leigh results in increased abundances of certain organisms, our study highlights the difficulty of rigorously demonstrating this, especially for patchily distributed and mobile fish species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-210
Number of pages14
JournalNew Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • Abundance
  • Fish
  • Marine reserve
  • Rock lobster, sea urchin


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