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Spatial correspondence between areas of concentration of Patagonian scallop (Zygochlamys patagonica) and frontal systems in the southwestern Atlantic

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It has been hypothesized that the geographical location of scallop beds in extensive shelf regions mirrors hydrographic structures (e.g. frontal systems) that favor the retention/concentration of pelagic larvae. Large, discontinuous concentrations of the Patagonian scallop (Zygochlamys patagonica) are known to have occurred recurrently (for more than 30 yr) at certain geographical locations over the extensive Patagonian shelf. These stocks, exploited since 1996, currently support one of the most important scallop fisheries in the world. Here, we investigate whether those aggregations are spatially coincidental with major frontal systems. Several pieces of information were used: historical survey data documenting the geographic distribution of the Patagonian scallop beds, catch and effort data from the commercial fleet, oceanographic data on frontal systems, and remote sensing imagery. We found that large-scale aggregations do match the location of three major and very different frontal systems in the southwestern Atlantic: the Shelf-Break Frontal System, the Northern Patagonia Frontal System, and the Southern Patagonia Frontal System. We describe the three frontal systems and their associated scallops fishing grounds and discuss which processes can contribute to sustaining the productivity of the scallop grounds in each case.
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Keywords: Patagonian scallop; benthic fishery; frontal systems; metapopulation; shelf-break front; shelf-sea front; southwestern Atlantic

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo Pesquero, PO Box 175, Mar del Plata B7602HSA, Argentina 2: Centro Nacional Patagónico, CONICET, 9120 Puerto Madryn, Argentina 3: Marine Sciences, CB 3300, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3300, USA

Publication date: 2005-09-01

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