Evaluating the effectiveness of a seasonal spawning area closure

Clarke, J., Bailey, D.M. and Wright, P.J. (2015) Evaluating the effectiveness of a seasonal spawning area closure. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 72(9), pp. 2627-2637. (doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsv144)

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Abstract

Fish that aggregate at predictable locations and times to spawn are often vulnerable to over-exploitation. Seasonal closures have often been implemented in an attempt to alleviate such impacts but the effectiveness of these measures is rarely tested. This study evaluates the effectiveness of a spawning closure for Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) in the Firth of Clyde off the Scottish West Coast (ICES Area VIa). This closurewas introduced in March 2001 as an emergency measure to allowas many cod as possible to spawn and avoid the build-up of displaced effort from another spawning closure. Genetic, tagging, and otolith microchemistry investigations indicate that cod inhabiting the Clyde are reproductively isolated from other resident groups in the central and northern part of the Scottish WestCoast stock. This study used a beyond-Before-After, Control-Impact approach to compare population trends of the Clyde spawning aggregation before and after the introduced area closure, using two other sub-population spawning grounds as control areas. There was no evidence of local recovery in terms of abundance, biomass, or reduced mortality in the Clyde more than a decade after establishing the closure. Mortality mayhave remained high because young cod are still caught as bycatch in the Nephrops fishery in the area and the predation rate may have increased due to an expanding whiting population. Considering the state of the already severely depleted Clyde sub-population when the closure was implemented the measure appears to have been too little and too late. The tendency to implement such spawning closures on nearly collapsed stocks may be why these measures often appear to have been ineffective.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bailey, Dr David
Authors: Clarke, J., Bailey, D.M., and Wright, P.J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:ICES Journal of Marine Science
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:1054-3139
ISSN (Online):1095-9289
Published Online:12 August 2015
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 Oxford University Press
First Published:First published in ICES Journal of Marine Science 72(9): 2627-2637
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.

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