Sustainable fisheries in shallow lakes: an independent empirical test of the Chinese mitten crab yield model
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Next to excessive nutrient loading, intensive aquaculture is one of the major anthropogenic impacts threatening lake ecosystems. In China, particularly in the shallow lakes of mid-lower Changjiang (Yangtze) River, continuous overstocking of the Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis) could deteriorate water quality and exhaust natural resources. A series of crab yield models and a general optimum-stocking rate model have been established, which seek to benefit both crab culture and the environment. In this research, independent investigations were carried out to evaluate the crab yield models and modify the optimum-stocking model. Low percentage errors (average 47%, median 36%) between observed and calculated crab yields were obtained. Specific values were defined for adult crab body mass (135 g/ind.) and recapture rate (18% and 30% in lakes with submerged macrophyte biomass above and below 1 000 g/m2) to modify the optimum-stocking model. Analysis based on the modified optimum-stocking model indicated that the actual stocking rates in most lakes were much higher than the calculated optimum-stocking rates. This implies that, for most lakes, the current stocking rates should be greatly reduced to maintain healthy lake ecosystems.
KeywordsChinese mitten crab sustainable fishery yield model optimum-stocking model independent test Changjiang lakes
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We thank CUI Yongde, LIU Xueqin, and ZHAO Weihua for their help with fieldwork. Special thanks to YE Shaowen for providing crab data for Niushan Lake and LI Yan for help with graph preparation.
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