Résumé: Effective use of spatial management in the pelagic realm presents special challenges due to high fish and fisher mobility, limited knowledge and significant governance challenges. The tropical Indian Ocean provides an ideal case study for testing our ability to apply existing data sources to assessing impacts of spatial management on tuna fisheries because of several recent controversial spatial closures. We review the scientific underpinnings of pelagic MPA effects, spatio-temporal patterns of Indian Ocean tuna catch, by catch and fish movements, and the consequences of these for the efficacy of spatial management for Indian Ocean tropical tuna fisheries. The tropical Indian Ocean is characterized by strong environmental fluctuations, regular seasonal variability in catch, large observed tuna displacement distances, relatively uniform catch-per-unit-effort and bycatch rates over space, and high fisher mobility, all of which suggest significant variability and movement in tropical tuna fisheries that are simply not well adapted to static spatial closures. One possible exception to this overall conclusion would be a large time/area closure east of Somalia. If closed for a significant fraction of the year it could reduce purse-seine bycatch and juvenile tuna catch. Dynamic closures following fish migratory patterns are possible, but more focused information on fish movements will be needed for effective implementation. Fortunately, several recent improvements in conventional fishery management and reporting will likely enhance our ability to evaluate spatial and non-spatial management options in the near future, particularly as pertaining to bycatch species.