Fisheries, Conservation science, Shrimp, Biomass, Predation, Ecosystem modeling, Ecosystem functioning, Ecosystems
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
High bycatch of non-target species and species of conservation concern often drives the implementation of fisheries policies. However, species- or fishery-specific policies may lead to indirect consequences, positive or negative, for other species or fisheries. We use an Atlantis ecosystem model of the Northern Gulf of California to evaluate the effects of fisheries policies directed at reducing bycatch of vaquita (Phocoena sinus) on other species of conservation concern, priority target species, and metrics of ecosystem function and structure. Vaquita, a Critically Endangered porpoise endemic to the Upper Gulf of California, are frequently entangled by finfish gillnets and shrimp driftnets. We tested five fishery management scenarios, projected over 30 years (2008 to 2038), directed at vaquita conservation. The scenarios consider progressively larger spatial restrictions for finfish gillnets and shrimp driftnets. The most restrictive scenario resulted in the highest biomass of species of conservation concern; the scenario without any conservation measures in place resulted in the lowest. Vaquita experienced the largest population increase of any functional group; their biomass increased 2.7 times relative to initial (2008) levels under the most restrictive spatial closure scenario. Bycatch of sea lions, sea turtles, and totoaba decreased > 80% in shrimp driftnets and at least 20% in finfish gillnet fleets under spatial management. We found indirect effects on species and ecosystem function and structure as a result of vaquita management actions. Biomass and catch of forage fish declined, which could affect lower-trophic level fisheries, while other species such as skates, rays, and sharks increased in both biomass and catch. When comparing across performance metrics, we found that scenarios that increased ecosystem function and structure resulted in lower economic performance indicators, underscoring the need for management actions that consider ecological and economic tradeoffs as part of the integrated management of the Upper Gulf of California.
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Citation / Publisher Attribution
PLoS ONE, v. 8, issue 5, art. e64085
This is an open-access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.
Scholar Commons Citation
Morzaria-Luna, Hem Nalini; Ainsworth, Cameron H.; Kaplan, Isaac C.; Levin, Phillip S.; and Fulton, Elizabeth A., "Indirect Effects of Conservation Policies on the Coupled Human-Natural Ecosystem of the Upper Gulf of California" (2013). Marine Science Faculty Publications. 1807.