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Spatio-temporal distribution of skipjack in relation to oceanographic conditions in the west-central Pacific Ocean

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The skipjack tuna, Katsuwonus pelamis, is an economically important oceanic species widely distributed in the west-central Pacific Ocean (WCPO). The spatio-temporal distribution of Katsuwonus pelamis with respect to oceanographic and climatic variables during 1995–2010 in the west-central Pacific was examined in this study using purse seine fishery data from South Pacific Fisheries Commission (SPC). ‘Gravitational centre’ of two temporal scales (i.e. monthly and yearly) of catch per unit effort (CPUE) was calculated to represent the variability of local stock abundance on fishing grounds. Significant inter-annual and seasonal variabilities were observed. Monthly longitudinal ‘centres of gravity’ were correlated with sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) in Niño 3.4 region and monthly latitudinal ‘centres of gravity’ reflect a ‘South–North’ migration pattern of Katsuwonus pelamis. The distribution–habitat associations were quantitatively evaluated including SST between 28–30°C, sea surface height (SSH)in the range 90–100 cm, gradient SST between 0.1 and 0.7°C 10 km−1,and chlorophyll-a(chl-a) between 0.1 and 0.6 mg m−3 by an empirical cumulative distribution function (ECDF). Four clusters of yearly ‘gravitational centres’ were classified using the k-means method, which could be defined as warmpool fishing ground (WFG) and cold-tongue fishing ground (CFG) according to their oceanographic habitat. The integrated environmental distribution map combined with the developed model (R 2 = 0.28, p < 0.0001) provides an approach for predicting hotspots of Katsuwonus pelamis. This study improves our understanding of the spatio-temporal dynamics of skipjack tuna, which is critical for sustainable management of this important fisheries resources.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: College of Marine Sciences, Shanghai Ocean University, Shanghai, China 2: School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME, USA

Publication date: December 16, 2016

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