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Seasonal and interannual variations of oceanographic conditions off Mangalore coast (Karnataka, India) in the Malabar upwelling system during 1995–2004 and their influences on the pelagic fishery

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Mangalore coast is well known for its multi-species and multi-gear fisheries and the fishery and oceanographic features of this region is a true representation of the Malabar upwelling system. Ten years of study (1995–2004) of oceanographic parameters has been carried out from the inshore waters off Mangalore to understand their seasonal and interannual variations and influences on the pelagic fishery of the region. Attempt has been also made to understand the influence of local and global environmental conditions on the alternating patterns of abundance between the Indian mackerel and oil sardine from the area. Field- and satellite-derived oceanographic data have shown that coastal upwelling occurs during July–September with a peak in August resulting in high nutrient concentrations and biological productivity along the coast. Nearly 70% of the pelagic fish catch, dominated by oil sardine and mackerel, was obtained during September–December, during or immediately after the upwelling season. Catches of scombroid fishes were significantly related to cold Sea Surface Temperature, while such relationships were not observed for sardines and anchovies. Significant positive correlations were observed between the ENSO events (MEI) and seawater temperature from the study area. The extreme oceanographic events associated with the cold La Niña, which preceded the exceptional 1997–98 El Niño event, were responsible for the collapse of the pelagic fishery, especially the mackerel fishery along the southwest coast of India (Malabar upwelling system). Coinciding with the collapse of the mackerel fishery, oil sardine populations revived during 1999–2000 all along the southwest coast of India. Tolerance of oil sardine to El Niño / La Niña events and the low predatory pressure experienced by their eggs and larvae due to the collapse of mackerel population might have resulted in its population revival.
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Keywords: Mangalore; fishery; mackerel; oceanography; sardine; upwelling

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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