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Temporal and spatial variability of pelagic wild fish assemblages around Atlantic bluefin tuna Thunnus thynnus farms in the eastern Adriatic Sea

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The abundance and size structure of wild fishes aggregated around the sea-cages of two commercial Thunnus thynnus farms, including control locations, were assessed and compared over a 1 year period. The T. thynnus farms were located in the eastern Adriatic Sea, offshore of the islands of Ugljan and Brač. Fish assemblages were evaluated through visual census using scuba at 2 month intervals at two sites within each farm. The data suggest that wild fish assemblages at the study sites differed greatly; 20 species occurred at the Ugljan farm and 17 at the Brač farm, while only seven species were observed at the control locations. The abundance and diversity of wild fish assemblages were greater at the farms in comparison to control locations. The most abundant families were Sparidae and Belonidae (>80% of aggregated fishes). At both farms, the abundance and diversity of wild fishes were highest during summer, while diversity was lowest in winter and was mainly characterized by schools of bogue Boops boops and garfish Belone belone. Variability was also detected in spatial assemblages between farms; B. boops and B. belone were the most abundant species for the overall study at the Brač farm, while B. belone and saddled bream Oblada melanura were the most abundant at the Ugljan farm. The settlement also played a significant role in farm-associated fish assemblages, as both juveniles and advanced juveniles were common residents at farms. The majority of species which settled at the farms belonged to the sparids. Results indicate that aggregations of wild fishes at T. thynnus farms are persistent year-round, though the assemblage compositions and size structures of dominant species vary in respect to location and season.
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Keywords: abundance; aquaculture; fish aggregation devices (FADs); seasonal variability; visual census; wild fishes

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Laboratory of Aquaculture, Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries, Šetalište Ivana Meštrovića 63, 21000 Split, Croatia

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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