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Behaviour impairment in captured and released sablefish: ecological consequences and possible substitute measures for delayed discard mortality

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Sablefish Anoplopoma fimbria aged 1+ and 2+ years were towed for 4 h in a net, transferred to air for either 15 or 30 min, and then held in tanks for up to 35 days for observation of physical injury, immediate mortality, behaviour impairment, delayed mortality and total mortality. Behaviour was impaired for at least 3 h and returned to normal levels by 24 h after stress induction. Behaviour impairment was correlated with delayed mortality in 2+ year fish but not in 1+ year fish which showed greater variation in stress responses. The results of this study and a review of past discard and escapee studies showed that substitute measures for delayed mortality in the field should include physical injury and behaviour impairment. These two measures integrate the effects of capture‐related stressors which can produce and magnify physical and physiological injury, resulting in changes in fish condition and delayed mortality.

Keywords: condition; delayed mortality; discard; infection; physiology; predation

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: Alaska Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Newport, OR 97365, U.S.A.

Publication date: January 1, 2005


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