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Linking fishing mortality reference points to life history traits: an empirical study

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The rule of thumb that fishing mortality to achieve maximum sustainable yield (F MSY) equals natural mortality (M) has been both criticised and supported by theoretical arguments. However, the relationship has been rarely investigated using empirical data. We carried out a meta-analysis on 245 fish species worldwide and linked three types of reference points (F BRP: F MSY, F proxy, and F 0.5r ) to M and other life history parameters (LHP). We used Bayesian hierarchical errors-in-variables models to investigate the relationships and included the effect of taxonomic class and order. We compared various models and found that natural mortality is the most important LHP affecting F BRP. Other covariates, such as von Bertalanffy growth coefficient, asymptotic length, maximum age, and habitat types, add little to the relationship, partially because of correlation and large measurement and process errors. The best model results in F MSY = 0.87M (standard deviation (SD) = 0.05) for teleosts and F MSY = 0.41M (SD = 0.09) for chondrichthyans. F proxy based on per-recruit analysis is about 15% smaller than F MSY. Results could be used to estimate F BRP from LHP in data-poor situations.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: School of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, 1 Wenyuan Road, Nanjing, Jiangsu 210046, P.R. China. 2: School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences, Box 355020, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-5020, USA. 3: CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research and Wealth from Oceans Flagship, Castray Esplanade, Hobart, Tas 7001, Australia.

Publication date: 2012-08-01

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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