Abstract: To have the greatest impact in marine conservation we must minimise threats to marine biodiversity. Marine protected areas (MPAs) are one of the mostly widely used tools to do this. However, the usefulness of MPA systems for mitigating broad-scale threats to marine ecosystems is questionable. This is because MPAs are often placed in areas that are “residual” to other activities, such as fishing and oil and gas extraction, in order to minimise conflict with stakeholders and to minimise opportunity costs. These activities are often the very activities threatening marine biodiversity, so how do we avoid residual conservation while still having an impact? One way to avoid this problem is by pre-emptively protecting areas that are not currently threatened, but that may be in the future (a proactive strategy). However, there is no evidence that this strategy is effective in the sea. The alternative is to protect areas that are immediately threatened (a reactive strategy), but this strategy incurs high opportunity costs. Here I will compare the effectiveness of a proactive and reactive strategy at protecting fish biodiversity on the coral reefs of Micronesia. Then, in light of this, I will measure the impact that existing MPA networks are having in relation to fishing and oil and gas extraction. I will then use this information to design a maximum-impact MPA network for Chuuk Lagoon, Micronesia.
Biography: Ed completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Queensland, where he majored in Zoology and Ecology, and later went on to study rare semi-aquatic plants. After spending some time working in the diving industry overseas, Ed returned to Australia to begin his PhD in the Conservation Planning Group under the supervision of Bob Pressey and Rebecca Weeks.