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Density-dependent growth in ‘catch-and-wait’ fisheries has implications for fisheries management and Marine Protected Areas

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Abstract

Stock enhancement activities provide an opportunity to examine density-dependent suppression of population biomass which is a fundamental issue for resource management and design of no-take-zones. We document ‘catch-and-wait’ fisheries enhancement where all but the largest lobsters are thrown back, recapturing them later after they have grown to a larger size. The residency, rate of return, and potential negative density-dependent effects of this activity are described using a combination of tagging and v-notching and by relating spatial growth patterns to population density defined with Catch Per Unit Effort. The results successfully demonstrated the concept of catch-and-wait practices. However, a density-dependent suppression of growth (in body size) was observed in male lobsters. This demonstrates a mechanism to explain differences in lobster sizes previously observed across EU fishing grounds with different stock densities. This negative effect of density could also affect individual biomass production in marine reserve or no-take zones.

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Merder, J., Browne, P., Freund, J. A., Fullbrook, L., Graham, C., Johnson, M. P., … Power, A. M. (2020). Density-dependent growth in ‘catch-and-wait’ fisheries has implications for fisheries management and Marine Protected Areas. Ambio, 49(1), 107–117. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-019-01158-1

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