Unraveling the blue paradox: incomplete analysis yields incorrect conclusions about Phoenix Islands Protected Area closure. 

In PNAS, McDermott et al. (1) analyze a 2014–2016 central Pacific fishing surge, focusing on the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) inside the Kiribati exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The authors incorrectly attribute the surge to the anticipated industrial fishing closure of PIPA and describe the phenomenon as a blue paradox (i.e., an unintended negative consequence of a conservation policy). However, a broader analysis demonstrates that this surge was unrelated to the closure of PIPA and was due to a strong El Niño event that created a fishing surge across multiple EEZs and high seas, not just PIPA (2).