Marine Science Faculty Publications

Effort Distribution and Catch Patterns Adjacent to Temperate MPAs

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We evaluated the spatial distribution of otter trawl fishing effort and catches resulting from the imposition in 1994 of year-round and seasonal groundfish closed areas off the NE USA. Vessel locations were available from logbooks, vessel monitoring system (VMS) data from many of the largest vessels, and from observer records. There was high spatial coherence between VMS- and observer-derived trawling locations. Prior to establishment, 31% of trawl effort (1991–1993) occurred within the 22 000 km2 of area that would eventually be closed year-round. In 2001–2003 about 10% of effort targeting groundfish was deployed within 1 km of the marine protected area (MPA) boundaries, and about 25% within 5 km. Density gradients, consistent with spill-over from MPAs, were apparent for some species. Average revenue per hour trawled was about twice as high within 4 km of the boundary, than for more distant catches, but the catch variability was greater nearer closed area boundaries. Seasonal closed areas attracted more fishing effort after opening than prior to closure even while average cpue was the same or lower. Spatial resolution of traditional data sources (e.g., logbooks) was too crude to discern detailed MPA-related effects, as revealed by high-resolution vessel positions from VMS and catch data obtained by observers.

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ICES Journal of Marine Science, v. 62, issue 6, p. 1150-1167