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Responses of the northern anchovy to the dynamics of the pelagic environment: identification of fish behaviours that may leave the population under risk of overexploitation

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Northern anchovy Engraulis mordax, in an upwelling area off the west coast of Baja California, Mexico, had several strategies in response to chlorophyll a distribution and availability. When the pigment was scarce, northern anchovies practically disappeared from the area and they returned to coastal waters when it was abundant. The fish gathered in specific areas where low turbulence mixing and high concentrations of chlorophyll a existed. The northern anchovies, responding to food concentration in a stable environment, were probably vulnerable to overexploitation because they were highly concentrated. More than 80% of the total fish density, estimated by acoustics, was recorded in a reduced area. Northern anchovies may have been vulnerable to the purse‐seiner fleet because they were swimming at shallow depth; they were close to shore not far from the fleet's base and they were concentrated in an area where several fishing boats could catch them. Studying the responses of shoaling fishes to fluctuation in the pelagic environment, with the intention of identifying behaviours that may leave the stock highly vulnerable to fishing, may help guide their management.
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Keywords: chlorophyll a; fish shoaling behaviour; fishery management; northern anchovy; upwelling

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, UNAM., Apartado Postal 70-305, México 04 500 D.F. México

Publication date: 2004-04-01

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