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Free Content Effects of Recreational Harvest on a Spiny Lobster, Panulirus Argus, Population

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A commercially unfished population of Panulirus argus was studied in Fort Jefferson National Monument at Dry Tortugas, Florida, from April 1971 to July 1975. For 29 months all harvest was prohibited, then an experimental sport harvest (hand caught by recreational divers) was allowed in 50% of the area for a period of 8 months, followed by 16 months of complete protection for assessment of recovery. Data on the size, abundance, and natural history of the lobsters were collected using SCUBA, and commercial trapping techniques. A total of 4,257 lobsters, with a mean carapace length of 101 mm, was tagged and released at Dry Tortugas. The existence of a resident adult P. argus population was demonstrated by the recovery of all recaptured lobsters (7.3%) within 10 km of their respective capture sites up to 104 weeks after release. Immediately following the experimental sport harvest, the population in the sport harvested area showed a 58% reduction in trap catch rate and dispersed to 42% of its pre-harvest lair occupancy density, while the population in the unharvested control area remained essentially unchanged. The catch rate in the sport harvested area recovered to 78% of its pre-harvest level after 1 year of complete protection from harvest, and the lair occupancy rate recovery was 71% after 16 months of post harvest protection. The pre-harvest standing crop was estimated at 58.3 kg/ha, wet weight.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 1977

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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