Are Changes in Bering Sea Crab and Groundfish Populations Related?

Are Changes in Bering Sea Crab and Groundfish Populations Related?

Gordon H. Kruse and Jie Zheng

Are Changes in Bering Sea Crab and Groundfish Populations Related?This is part of Ecosystem Approaches for Fisheries Management
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Description

Are decadal changes in abundance of crabs and groundfish in the Gulf of Alaska and eastern Bering Sea related? One popular opinion is that groundfish predation caused declines in crab populations. Research into crabgroundfish relationships off Alaskan coasts is scanty, and purported cause and effect relationships remain speculative. Routine examination of stomach contents of a few commercially important groundfish species in the eastern Bering Sea shows that Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus) are the primary crab consumer (Livingston 1991, Livingston et al. 1993, Livingston and deReynier 1996). Other species that eat much fewer crabs include yellowfin sole (Pleuronectes asper), rock sole (Pleuronectes bilineatus), Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis), Alaska plaice (Pleuronectes quadrituberculatus), walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma), and skates.

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