Fishing closures are one of the most commonly used methods for the effective protection of FSAs. For fishing closures to function effectively, the timing and location of spawning aggregations should be defined as accurately and precisely as possible. Similarly, there should be a comprehensive understanding of reproductive areas and/or periods. Managers should bear in mind that reproductive seasonality can vary within species among nearby sites, such as occurs for co-aggregating groupers in Palau.
To provide the best possible protection for the most vulnerable species, it may be prudent to prioritize them, based on their vulnerability and life-history characteristics, before engaging in management negotiations.
FSAs are in no way static in either time or space. Managers should anticipate that the specific location of an FSA may vary (often slightly), and that the seasonal timing of aggregation formation can also change a bit year to year. Thus, spatial and temporal closures must take into account these inherent variations, and provide a sound buffer zone around closure sites and times. For example, in Pohnpei, camouflage grouper aggregate some years in February and March, while in other years they aggregate in March and April. Therefore, an effective closure period would be to establish a seasonal closure from February to April.
Area closures should include reproductive migratory corridors. When the corridors are unknown, or even if they are nonexistent, a buffer zone should be included around the area enclosing the FSA. This allows fish to move outside and away from the FSA without being immediately captured, and provides some room for error in the event that FSAs move, or utilize a slightly different area over time.
FSA closures, as area closures, may require that the site be closed permanently (year-round), if multiple species are using the site. For example, in Belize and the Solomon Islands, some multi-species sites are utilized for spawning all year.1 Alternatively, in Pohnpei, some known FSA sites are only active over a 5-month timeframe. In the latter case, a seasonal closure is possible, but should be incorporated as a 7-month closure, with a buffer that allows for temporal variation, i.e., one month on either side of the spawning season.