In 2004, Moorea's Maritime Space Management Plan (PGEM) was officially approved and included 8 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). In support of this action, the CRIOBE, in collaboration with the Marine Resources Department, launched a biological monitoring program for the MPAs which were established to help regulate fisheries. The monitoring program was created to collect data from each of the MPAs and to then run analyses to determine whether the reserves are effective in protecting habitats and marine resources (fish and edible invertebrates).
The revision of the PGEM, initiated in 2014, improved regulations following a very broad consultation of lagoon users and the people of Moorea. In September 2021, a new version of the PGEM was adopted by French Polynesia.
Although many modifications were made throughout the document, the geographical boundaries of the MPAs remain nearly identical to what they were in the original document (2004). As such, the monitoring efforts will continue with only minimal changes, with the 19th consecutive year of monitoring scheduled to take place in mid-June 2022.
From the fringing reef to the outer slope
Two specialists in marine invertebrates (corals, mollusks, echinoderms) and two fish counters are responsible for conducting the monitoring surveys around the island of Moorea. The counts are always carried out around the full moon. Three "corridor transects", each with a width of 25 m, are conducted within each of the zones. The areas chosen within each MPA correspond to three different habitats:
- the outer slope at 10 m depth,
- the barrier reef, 200 m behind the breakers at the reef crest
- the edge of the fringing reef
Monitoring is conducted for 8 Marine Protected Areas (opposite in black), and five control marine areas (AMT, opposite in green). This allows for a comparison to be made between the protected areas and the areas that are open to fishing, with respect to space and time. A total of 118 points were surveyed for a period of two weeks and then the data were analyzed to determine trends.