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Research was undertaken to model and map the spatial distributions and abundances of pink shrimp Farfantepenaeus duorarum on the West Florida Shelf (WFS) using habitat suitability modeling (HSM). Data loggers and electronic logbook systems on three shrimp boats were used to gather catch and effort data along with bottom temperature, salinity, and depth data at the fishing locations. Vessel monitoring system (VMS) data supplied by the fishing company helped delineate areas with high fishing activity. For the vessels participating in this study, significantly higher mean catch per unit effort (CPUE) of pink shrimp was realized on the WFS during June–September 2004 and October–December 2004 than during January–March 2005 and April–June 2005. Suitability functions were created to predict CPUE in relation to depth, aspect, bottom type, bottom temperature, current speed, current direction, and VMS zone. Oceanographic modeling was conducted monthly from March 2004 to June 2005. Bottom current speed and direction indicated marked upwelling onto the WFS during 2004 and downwelling during 2005. The HSM linked to GIS was used to predict the spatial distributions and abundances of pink shrimp monthly from March 2004 to June 2005. While seven factors contributed to the HSM, current speed and current direction appeared to be most important during June–December 2004. The areas with the most pronounced upwelling were also the areas that the HSM predicted would have the highest mean CPUEs. This relationship was verified by overlaying the observed CPUE from the fishing vessels onto the suitability zones predicted by the HSM.

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Marine and Coastal Fisheries, v. 8, issue 1, p. 160-176