Footprints in the sand: a persistent spatial impression of fishing in a mobile groundfish assemblage
Fishing is well known to curtail the size distribution of fish populations. This paper reports the discovery of small-scale spatial patterns in length appearing in several exploited species of Celtic Sea demersal ‘groundfish’. These patterns match well with spatial distributions of fishing activity, estimated from vessel monitoring records taken over a period of 6 years, suggesting that this ‘mobile’ fish community retains a persistent impression of local-scale fishing pressure. An individual random-walk model of fish movement best matched these exploitation ‘footprints’ with individual movement rates set to <35 km per year. We propose that Celtic Sea groundfish may have surprisingly low movement rates for much of the year, such that fishing impact is spatially heterogeneous and related to local fishing intensity.
KeywordsFishing Movement Rate Fishing Activity Fishing Mortality Fishing Pressure
This study used survey data supplied the Irish Marine Institute. S.S. was funded from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under grant agreement MYFISH no 289257. S.B.M.K. was funded through a fellowship (Grant-Aid Agreement No. PDOC/FS/07/002) funded by the Sea Change Strategy with the support of the Marine Institute and the Marine Research Sub-programme of the National Development Plan 2007–2013, Ireland. F. de C., K.D.F. and D.G.R. acknowledge support through a Beaufort Marine Research Award, carried out under the Sea Change Strategy and the Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation (2006–2013), with the support of the Marine Institute, funded under the Marine Research Sub-programme of the Irish National Development Plan 2007–2013. We appreciate the suggestions of the four anonymous reviewers that helped improve the manuscript.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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