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Do marine protected areas work?

Marine protected areas, or MPAs, are an increasingly common way of protecting marine ecosystems by prohibiting fishing in specific locations. However, many people remain skeptical that MPAs actually benefit fish populations, and there has not yet been a way to demonstrate whether or not they are effective. Until now. A newly-published study is the first description of how to use data collected before and after a protected area is implemented to measure its effectiveness. Data collected beforehand can help predict how much fish populations are expected to increase. Then scientists can compare it to data collected after the MPA is in place to help determine whether adjustments are needed, such as changing the size or enforcement levels of an MPA.

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