I quantify the effects of 11 variables on the catchability and fishing power of pelagic longlines, which are used to catch tunas and billfishes in the open ocean. Extension of the depth range and the duration of longline operations have reduced the catchability of several epipelagic species, such as mako sharks (Isurus spp.), since industrial longlining commenced in the tropical Pacific Ocean in the early 1950s. Reductions in the body size of many species may also have reduced encounters with longline hooks. By contrast, the catchability of commercially valuable bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus) increased substantially because of the longer duration and extension of the depth range of longlines. Stronger and less visible line materials and increased fishing-master experience also contributed to increased catchability. By affecting the rate of bait loss, the introduction of new bait species increased fishing power. This study highlights significant problems in deriving indices of abundance from commercial catch and effort data. Instead of relying on commercial data, assessments should use tag-recapture experiments or dedicated surveys to obtain fishery-independent estimates of abundance.
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 18, 2008
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