| Precis||Fully-protected marine reserves are areas of the sea completely protected from fishing and other extractive or harmful human uses. Since the first fully-protected reserves were established, more than two decades ago, they have stimulated a wealth of research and intense interest. Recent scientific evidence indicates that reserves are not only powerful tools for conservation, but can also provide much needed support for fisheries. There is an urgent need for more reserves in order to address the developing crisis in the oceans. Worldwide, fisheries are in trouble, and habitats and species are being lost at an alarming rate. However, decision makers need good scientific information on how to make reserves work successfully.
Questions such as ‘how do reserves function?’, ‘how many should we have?’, and ‘where should we put them?’ are challenging the minds of scientists, conservationists and managers everywhere. The case for marine reserve establishment gets stronger with every new study published and scientists are making good headway in developing a detailed theoretical basis for fully-protected reserves, supported by good quality data.