Abundance and Impact of Fishing on a Stone Crab (Menippe Mercenerla) Population in Everglades National Park, Florida
Abstract:The stone crab (Menippe mercenaria) supports an important commercial fishery in southwest florida. Heavy commercial exploitation of stone crab stocks in Everglades National Park (ENP), prompted statements of concern about their status of utilization. During the 1983 and 1984 fishing seasons, tagging studies, diving surveys and monitoring of commercial fishing operations were implemented to assess abundance and rate of exploitation of localized stocks. Results indicate that an important stock is centered in the area off Cape Sable. The fishing season (15 October-15 May) corresponded to a period between two consecutive recruitment seasons. An adult male stock recruited in the spring and summer of 1984 was almost fully utilized during the first 5 months of the season. The fishery was subsequently sustained by new 1985 spring recruitment. Abundance estimated for different population fractions resulted in similar relative seasonal trends. Fishing mortality associated with the 1984 fishing season was 0.751 while expected natural mortality rate for the same period was 0.939. On an annual basis, exploitation rate for the stock is 0.318, which represents a 63.6% level of stock utilization. It is concluded that the fishing season may have a dual role of protecting berried females during peak summer spawning, as well as acting as a buffer against fishing exploitation. Under new regulations all commercial fishing activities in ENP ceased as of 31 December 1985. The need for assessment work to study population growth under conditions of no exploitation is indicated.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: March 1, 1990
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