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Distribution and abundance of skates (Bathyraja spp.) on the Kerguelen Plateau through the lens of the toothfish fisheries


Nowara, GB and Burch, P and Gasco, N and Welsford, DC and Lamb, TD and Chazeau, C and Duhamel, G and Pruvost, P and Wotherspoon, S and Candy, SG, Distribution and abundance of skates (Bathyraja spp.) on the Kerguelen Plateau through the lens of the toothfish fisheries, Fisheries Research, 186, (Part 1) pp. 65-81. ISSN 0165-7836 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Crown Copyright 2016

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.fishres.2016.07.022


Three species of skate, Bathyraja eatonii, B. irrasa and B. murrayi, are commonly taken as incidental by-catch in Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) longline and trawl fisheries, and the mackerel icefish (Champsocephalus gunnari) trawl fishery on the Kerguelen Plateau (KP) in the southern Indian Ocean. Data from fishery observations for 19972014 shows that the three skates were widely distributed across the Kerguelen Plateau, showing different spatial distributions, linked mainly with depth. Off Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI), in the southern part of the KP, B. eatonii and B. irrasa were most abundant to the north and northwest of Heard Island, out to the edge of the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and were caught down to depths of 1790m and 2059m respectively. The smallest species, B. murrayi, occurred mainly in the shallower waters down to 550m, and was most abundant to the north and northeast, close to Heard Island. Around Kerguelen Islands, in the northern part of the KP, skates were most abundant between the 500m and 1000m contours circling and extending from the islands.

Catch rates were modelled using zero-inflated GAMs and GLMs. The catch rates of skates from the trawl fisheries in the Australian EEZ surrounding Heard Island and McDonald Islands have shown little evidence of depletion on the main trawl fishing grounds, although there is evidence of a decrease in the average total length of B. eatonii. The marine reserves and the conservation measures employed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources in the HIMI fisheries, appear to provide effective protection for the skates, at least in the shallower waters where the trawl fisheries operate. B. irrasa taken in the deeper waters where longline fishing occurs have shown a slight decline in catch rate over the years of the HIMI fishery. Although all skates are returned to the water from this fishery, survival rates are unknown and careful monitoring should continue to assess the status of these stocks. There appears to be little change in the abundance of the skate species at Kerguelen in the time period.

This study provides the first review of skate by-catch across both the HIMI and Kerguelen fisheries. Ongoing monitoring of species specific by-catch levels and further research to determine the important life history parameters of these species are required, particularly for B. irrasa which is taken in both trawl and longline fisheries.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Bathyraja sp., Sub-Antarctic, by-catch, zero-inflated models, GAM, GLM
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Fisheries sciences
Research Field:Aquaculture and fisheries stock assessment
Objective Division:Animal Production and Animal Primary Products
Objective Group:Fisheries - wild caught
Objective Field:Fisheries - wild caught not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Burch, P (Dr Paul Burch)
UTAS Author:Wotherspoon, S (Dr Simon Wotherspoon)
ID Code:110756
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2016-08-12
Last Modified:2018-03-20

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