Ecosystem Simulations of Management Strategies for Data-Limited Seamount Fisheries

Ecosystem Simulations of Management Strategies for Data-Limited Seamount Fisheries

Telmo Morato and Tony J. Pitcher

Ecosystem Simulations of Management Strategies for Data-Limited Seamount FisheriesThis is part of Fisheries Assessment and Management in Data-Limited Situations
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Description

Traditional fisheries stock assessment requires large amounts of information, mainly from long-term data series, a requirement that is hard to apply to new or poorly documented fishing grounds. With the collapse of traditional shelf stocks and a general decline of global catches, the fishery industry has moved to alternative fishing grounds and species—a process of serial depletion. Seamounts are among those newly targeted ecosystems. In this paper we investigate if ecosystem simulations can help researchers understand the impact of fishing on pristine seamounts. Using ecosystem modeling tools, data gathered from elsewhere, and methods that search for optimal fishing policies, we explore what types of fisheries might be sustainable on seamounts. Although the analyses in this paper are not meant to describe actual fisheries for seamounts, some generalizations can be made. Simulations with policy objectives that maximize economic performance favor fleet configurations based on deepwater trawling, but entail a cost to biodiversity. Maximizing ecological performance favors fleets based on small pelagic and bottom longline fisheries, and maximizes biomass of long-lived species and biodiversity, but sacrifices total catches and jobs. The overall study suggested that sustainable seamount fisheries with tolerable ecosystem impacts appear to be closer to those found by maximizing an "ecological" objective function.

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