Marine Biology

, 164:100 | Cite as

Vulnerability of spawning aggregations of a coastal marine fish to a small-scale fishery

  • Brad E. Erisman
  • Juan José Cota-Nieto
  • Marcia Moreno-Báez
  • Octavio Aburto-Oropeza
Original paper


For marine fishes that form spawning aggregations, vulnerability to aggregation fishing is influenced by interactions between the spatio-temporal patterns of spawning and aspects of the fishery that determine fishing effort, catch, and catch rate in relation to spawning. We investigated the spatio-temporal dynamics of spawning and fishing for the barred sand bass, Paralabrax nebulifer, in Punta Abreojos, Mexico from 2010 to 2012 as a means to assess its vulnerability to aggregation fishing by the local commercial fishery. Monthly, spatial patterns in gonadal development in collected females indicated that adults formed spawning aggregations at two sites in Punta Abreojos during July and August. Monthly patterns in the spatial distribution of fishing matched the spawning behavior of P. nebulifer, with effort and catch concentrated at spawning aggregation sites during those months. However, fishing effort, catch, and catch-per-unit effort did not increase during the spawning season, and fishing activities associated with the spawning season comprised only a small percentage of the total annual effort (22%) and catch (17%). Therefore, while the population of P. nebulifer at Punta Abreojos should be vulnerable to aggregation fishing due to the spatio-temporal dynamics of its spawning aggregations, vulnerability is greatly reduced, because fishing activities are not disproportionately focused on spawning aggregations and fishing methods are not optimized to maximize harvest from the aggregations. Differences between our results and previous studies on aggregation fisheries for P. nebulifer in California, USA, reinforce the importance of assessing factors influencing vulnerability to aggregation fishing at regional scales for prioritizing management efforts.


Fishing Fishing Effort Spawning Activity Fishing Trip Fishing Site 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank the Cooperative Society of Fishing Production of Punta Abreojos (Sociedad Cooperativa de Producción Pesquera Punta Abreojos S.C. de R.L.) and the fishermen of Punta Abreojos for their participation in the study and their commitment to and support for collaborative fisheries research with the Gulf of California Marine Program. We also thank G Hinojosa Arango, E Enriquez, and FJ Rousseau for assistance with fieldwork and fisheries data collections and J Robinson for his valuable comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. Financial support for this project was provided by Fondo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza A.C., the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and the Helmsley Trust Foundation.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare they have no conflict of interest, and consent was obtained from all participants of the study. All animals were sampled according to protocols approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) at the University of California San Diego (Protocol#S09323), and all necessary permits were obtained prior to conducting the research.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brad E. Erisman
    • 1
  • Juan José Cota-Nieto
    • 2
  • Marcia Moreno-Báez
    • 3
    • 4
  • Octavio Aburto-Oropeza
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Marine ScienceUniversity of Texas at AustinPort AransasUSA
  2. 2.Centro para la Biodiversidad Marina y la Conservacíon A.C.La PazMexico
  3. 3.Scripps Institution of OceanographyUniversity of California San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  4. 4.Department of Environmental StudiesUniversity of New EnglandBiddefordUSA

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