In recent decades, marine reserves have been established to protect ecosystem structure and biological diversity, or as management tools to combat the overexploitation of fish stocks. The Cap Roux Marine Protected Area (MPA) was established by professional fishers in December 2003, in the French Mediterranean between Cannes and Saint-Raphaêl. It was implemented to enhance target fish stocks for local fisheries. The objective of this 3-year study was to investigate the initial responses of fish assemblages, using complementary methods: experimental net fishing performed by a professional fisher and underwater visual census. Within 3 years, this study detected early changes in the fish assemblages. The methods also detected an increase in abundance and diversity of fish, but also a decrease of seasonal fluctuations of the assemblage structure, which was characterized by winter values close to summer values in the protected zone but not outside of the MPA. These results helped clarify the dynamic by which fish assemblages respond to fishing prohibition in a newly created protected area.
C. Seytre and P. Francour: EA 4228 ECOMERS, Universite´ de Nice-Sophia Antipolis.