Consumption and Harvest of Pelagic Fishes and Squids in the Gulf of Maine–Georges Bank Ecosystem

Consumption and Harvest of Pelagic Fishes and Squids in the Gulf of Maine–Georges Bank Ecosystem

William J. Overholtz, Jason S. Link, and Lynette E. Suslowicz

Consumption and Harvest of Pelagic Fishes and Squids in the Gulf of Maine–Georges Bank EcosystemThis is part of Ecosystem Approaches for Fisheries Management
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Description

The fish biomass on the continental shelf off the eastern United States and Canada has shifted toward the pelagic community in the 1990s. Biological interactions play a major role in the structure and function of this dynamic ecosystem and thus a greater understanding of these mechanisms can provide a basis for better fisheries management. Low-frequency monitoring of predator diet compositions, such as the current program at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, can provide a basis for conclusions on the impact of biological interactions on this or similar ecosystems. This study provides estimates of consumption by 12 species of piscivorous fish on Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus), Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus), butterfish (Peprilus triacanthus), sand lance (Ammodytes sp.), short-finned squid (Illex illecebrosus), and long-finned squid (Loligo pealei) during 1977-1997. Results suggest that total consumption by these predatory fish is significant when compared to landings,ranging from 1.5 million to 3.0 million t per year. Predation on pelagic fish and squids appears to be an important and large component of the overall system dynamics of this ecosystem. Consumption of pelagic fish and squids by predatory fish appears to equal or exceed landings in most years from 1977-1997. In several cases, notably for long-finned squid, herring, and butterfish, consumption also exceeds the current MSY for these stocks.

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