Fishing effects and life history traits: a case study comparing tropical versus temperate tunas

Type Article
Date 2001-10
Language English
Author(s) Fromentin Jean-Marc, Fonteneau Alain
Affiliation(s) IFREMER, Dept Ressources Halieut, F-34203 Sete, France.
Source Fisheries Research (0165-7836) (Elsevier), 2001-10 , Vol. 53 , N. 2 , P. 133-150
DOI 10.1016/S0165-7836(00)00299-X
WOS© Times Cited 71
Keyword(s) Management measures, Sustainability, Fishing, Long term fluctuations, Simulation modelling, Skipjack, Bluefin tuna
Abstract This study aims to test whether exploitation affects tunas and tuna-like species displaying contrasting life history traits similarly. We first collected information on life history of 10 commercial Atlantic species and then compared this information using multivariate analysis. On one hand, tropical tunas are characterised by small to medium size, rapid growth, early age-at-maturity, long spawning duration and short life span. These species, therefore, display a rapid turnover, characteristic of r-selected species. On the other hand, temperate tunas display differing life history traits, i.e., large size, slow growth, late age-at-maturity, short spawning duration and long life span. The turnover of these species is slow and present characteristics similar to 'K-selected' species (with a conservative strategy adapted to a colder and more variable environment). We, then, selected the two tuna species displaying the most contrasting life histories, i.e., skipjack (SKJ) and bluefin tuna (BFT), and investigated their respective responses to various levels of exploitation, using simulation modelling. If fishing activity starts at age I (a situation which is close to the actual exploitation pattern), differences in life history traits make the BFT population much more fragile to exploitation and less productive than SKJ. However, if the fisheries only target adults, both SKJ and BFT populations are able to sustain high F. Spawning stocks and yields of BFT also display conspicuous long-term fluctuations, resulting from the combination of year-to-year variations in the recruitment and a long life span. This variability makes it difficult to detect overfishing or depletion risks in the BFT population. Because of its short life span, SKI does not display such long-term variations in its SSB. Our simulations also showed that current management measures based on a minimum size limit are much more critical for BFT than SKJ. This difference stresses the importance of taking account of differences in life history traits into management measures.
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