Utilizing Spatial Demographic and Life History Variation to Optimize Sustainable Yield of a Temperate Sex-Changing FishReport as inadecuate

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Fish populations vary geographically in demography and life history due to environmental and ecological processes and in response to exploitation. However, population dynamic models and stock assessments, used to manage fisheries, rarely explicitly incorporate spatial variation to inform management decisions. Here, we describe extensive geographic variation in several demographic and life history characteristics e.g., size structure, growth, survivorship, maturation, and sex change of California sheephead Semicossyphus pulcher, a temperate rocky reef fish targeted by recreational and commercial fisheries. Fish were sampled from nine locations throughout southern California in 2007–2008. We developed a dynamic size and age-structured model, parameterized separately for each location, to assess the potential cost or benefit in terms of fisheries yield and conservation objectives of changing minimum size limits and-or fishing mortality rates compared to the status quo. Results indicate that managing populations individually, with location-specific regulations, could increase yield by over 26% while maintaining conservative levels of spawning biomass. While this local management approach would be challenging to implement in practice, we found statistically similar increases in yield could be achieved by dividing southern California into two separate management regions, reflecting geographic similarities in demography. To maximize yield, size limits should be increased by 90 mm in the northern region and held at current levels in the south. We also found that managing the fishery as one single stock the status quo, but with a size limit 50 mm greater than the current regulations, could increase overall fishery yield by 15%. Increases in size limits are predicted to enhance fishery yield and may also have important ecological consequences for the predatory role of sheephead in kelp forests. This framework for incorporating demographic variation into fisheries models can be exported generally to other species and may aid in identifying the appropriate spatial scales for fisheries management.

Author: Scott L. Hamilton , Jono R. Wilson, Tal Ben-Horin, Jennifer E. Caselle

Source: http://plos.srce.hr/


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