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Estimating movement and abundance of Atka mackerel (Pleurogrammus monopterygius) with tag–release–recapture data

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A mark–recapture experiment was conducted in Seguam Pass, Alaska, to estimate local Atka mackerel (Pleurogrammus monopterygius) abundance and to evaluate the efficacy of trawl exclusion zones around Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) rookeries. Atka mackerel were found in dense aggregations near the Aleutian Islands where they are a major prey item of endangered Steller sea lions. In 1999, 1375 tagged fish were released and a biomass of 76 679 metric tonnes (t) was estimated outside a trawl exclusion zone using a simple Petersen model. In 2000, 8773 tagged fish were released and the estimated biomasses were 117 900 t inside and 82 057 t outside the trawl exclusion zones using an integrated tagging model. Movement into the open zone was small after 107 days (0.6%), whereas movement from the open area was potentially large but highly uncertain after 107 days (81%). Our model suggests that trawl exclusion zones in Seguam Pass are effective in separating a large biomass of potential prey for Steller sea lions from the immediate effects of local fisheries. Atka mackerel do not appear to move substantially outside their local aggregations (<70 km), and they show strong habitat preferences within their local home ranges. In one instance, fish released in an area of low Atka mackerel abundance returned to their capture location about 2 miles away. Thus individual Atka mackerel may have an affinity for particular areas within their home range, perhaps resulting from adaptations to local oceanic conditions along the Aleutian Island archipelago.
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Keywords: Aleutian Islands; Atka mackerel; ecosystem; movement rate; population abundance; tag–release–recapture; trawl-exclusion zone

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115, USA 2: 6224 Groveland Drive, Nanaimo, Canada

Publication date: 01 November 2005

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