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Linkages between environmental conditions and recreational king mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla) catch off west-central Florida

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Catch statistics for the king mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla) recreational fishery off west-central Florida were derived from angler interviews conducted during 19 seasonal tournaments held in April–May and October–November of 2004 and 2005. Fishing location, number of fish per line per hour (catch per unit effort), and presence of baitfish from the tournament data were examined in the context of bathymetric gradients and other benthic features (e.g., wrecks or artificial reefs), and the location and persistence of oceanic fronts mapped using satellite imagery of sea surface temperature (AVHRR) and ocean color (MODIS and SeaWiFS). Generalized linear models were applied to identify the relationship between king mackerel catch rates and environmental data. The distance of fishing activity to the nearest front varied substantially, particularly when winds and front position were variable. However, baitfish presence with proximity to water clarity fronts (as defined by water-leaving radiance at 443 nm) significantly influenced successful king mackerel catch. Positive catch rates were significantly influenced by chlorophyll values and period (season and year). Additionally, intermediate water clarity (in the range 0.7–1.0 mW cm−2μm−1 sr−1) led to higher catch rates. Decreased water quality, primarily associated with a large Karenia brevis red tide, led to a lower number of catch and lower catch rates (122 king mackerel, 0.13 catch per unit effort) in fall 2005, compared to spring 2004 (179, 0.14), fall 2004 (360, 0.17) and spring 2005 (296, 0.21), despite a consistent seasonal effort.
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Keywords: Scomberomorus; West Florida Shelf; king mackerel; ocean fronts; remote sensing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School for Marine Science and Technology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 706 South Rodney French Boulevard, New Bedford, MA 02744, USA 2: Roffer’s Ocean Fishing Forecasting Service, Inc. (ROFFS™), 60 Westover Drive, West Melbourne, FL 32904, USA

Publication date: 01 May 2009

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