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Giant Marine Reserves Pose Vast Challenges

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Science  08 Feb 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6120, pp. 640-641
DOI: 10.1126/science.339.6120.640

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Over the past 6 years, the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom have created huge marine reserves that have banned fishing in more than 1.9 million square kilometers of ocean. Unlike an older generation of preserves that mostly focused on small patches of coral or coastal fish stocks, these vast new sanctuaries are designed to protect high-seas ecosystems that include fish and other animals that routinely wander over huge territories. The trend delights conservation scientists who are worried about overexploitation of the world's oceans. But researchers are struggling to design and fund studies that will enable them to monitor changes over vast areas and determine whether the reserves are actually helping to rebuild marine populations.