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A new approach to recruitment overfishing diagnosis based on fish condition from survey data
Francesc Ordines, Josep Lloret, Pilar Tugores, Chiara Manfredi, Beatriz Guijarro, Angélique Jadaud, Cristina Porcu, Luis Gil de Sola, Roberto Carlucci, Marina Sartini, Igor Isajlović, Enric Massutí

A new approach to recruitment overfishing diagnosis is presented. We hypothesize that condition of recruits should increase when recruitment failures are caused by fishing activity. This would be a consequence of the increase in trophic resource availability, because the population is smaller than that which the ecosystem could support. Temporal series of hake recruit condition were calculated from MEDITS survey data collected in Mediterranean geographical sub-areas (GSAs) 1, 6, 17 and 19 from 1994 to 2015. Multiple linear regressions were used to analyse the relationship between mean annual condition and abundance of recruits and climatic indices in each GSA. Significant correlations were only detected in GSA 6, where 69% of condition variability was explained by the negative correlation with recruit abundance, and with two climatic indices, the Western Mediterranean Oscillation and the standardized air temperature anomaly at surface from the Gulf of Lions. Despite the differences in recruit abundance among GSAs, their mean annual condition oscillated around the same basal value during most of the time series, pointing to density-dependent mortality rates as an important mechanism stabilizing hake recruitment to levels close to the carrying capacity when populations do not suffer recruitment overfishing. This pattern changed when the decreasing recruit abundance trend drove GSA 6 condition values persistently above those of the rest of the GSAs. According to our hypothesis, hake in GSA 6 is in recruitment overfishing.

Keywords: Merluccius merluccius; fishery; recruits; condition index; recruitment overfishing; MEDITS survey
Contents of this volume Sci. Mar. 83S1 : 223-233 Back PDF
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