Catch me in winter! Seasonal variation in air temperature severely enhances physiological stress and mortality of species subjected to sorting operations and discarded during annual fishing activities
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Several studies have considered the direct and indirect effects of demersal trawling on discarded species in terms of sublethal damages, survival, and stress due to the fishing processes. Nevertheless the effects of air temperature on the physiological stress and the survival of species during sorting operations were only marginally explored. This factor could be particularly important in the context of sustainable fisheries at temperate latitudes where the seasonal variation of air temperature can be particularly pronounced. In this study the seasonal effects of rapido trawling on the non-target species Liocarcinus depurator (Portunidae) in the Northern Adriatic Sea (Mediterranean Sea) have been compared by applying survival tests and considering the unbalance in metabolites’ concentration as indicators of physiological stress. Results showed consistently higher mortalities during exposure to air in summer (temperature: 28°C), which reached about 96% in 20 min, compared to winter (temperature: 9°C) when only 2% of individuals died. Furthermore trawled and emersed crabs showed significant increase of hemolymph ammonia, lactate, and glucose concentrations as effects of extreme exercise and suffocation, which was more prominent during summer, suggesting that air temperature can play an important role in determining non-target species survival.