Prevention is Better Than Cure: Systems of ‘No-Take’ Marine Reserves

  • Bill Ballantine


The human mind, especially the scientific mind, tends to be analytical. We look at actual problems and, when these are serious, we search for cures. But good management, which evolves only slowly, tends towards synthesis. It tries to prevent or avoid problems, not singly, but in whole classes.

For the past 50 years, marine management, especially fisheries management, has become so analytical that it is difficult to see the forest because of all the trees. Furthermore, despite great increases in data and analytical power, and some temporary successes, the overall results are not impressive.

In recent years, several countries have begun to apply analysis to ‘no-take’ areas. It is clear that setting aside marine areas from exploitation can help cure many problems. It is now sensible to move on, and use this technique to prevent or avoid whole classes of problems.

This is not very difficult, except in making the mental effort. It is rather obvious that a system of ‘no-take’ marine reserves which is — (a) representative (biogeographically and ecologically), (b) replicated, (c) designed as a networkand (d) of sufficient size to be self-sustainable — would be (by definition) the best way to conserve marine biodiversity. Such a system would also help to prevent whole classes of ‘problems’ in science, education, recreation, monitoringand extractive management. Sufficient detailed and analysed examples of thesenow exist to incorporate the whole idea into general marine management.

Western Canada has an opportunity, provided by public discussion of the draft Marine Protected Area (MPA) Strategy, to aim for a full and effective system of marine reserves.


Fishery Management Marine Protect Area Marine Reserve Marine Biodiversity Temporary Success 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bill Ballantine
    • 1
  1. 1.Leigh Marine LaboratoryUniversity of AucklandWarkworthNew Zealand

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