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PLoS One. 2017 Jan 13;12(1):e0170132. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0170132. eCollection 2017.

Identifying Risk: Concurrent Overlap of the Antarctic Krill Fishery with Krill-Dependent Predators in the Scotia Sea.

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Antarctic Ecosystem Research Division, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, La Jolla, California, United States of America.


Mitigating direct and indirect interactions between marine predators and fisheries is a motivating factor for ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM), especially where predators and fisheries compete for a shared resource. One difficulty in advancing EBFM is parameterizing clear functional responses of predators to indices of prey availability. Alternative characterizations of fishery-predator interactions may therefore benefit the implementation of EBFM. Telemetry data identify foraging areas used by predators and, therefore, represent critical information to mitigate potential competition between predators and fisheries. We analyzed six years (2009-2014) of telemetry data collected at Cape Shirreff, Livingston Island and Admiralty Bay, King George Island, Antarctica, on three species of Pygoscelid penguins and female Antarctic fur seals. In this region, all four species are primarily dependent on Antarctic krill. The tracking data demonstrate local movements near breeding colonies during the austral summer and dispersal from breeding colonies during the winter. We then assessed overlap between predators and the Antarctic krill fishery on a suite of spatiotemporal scales to examine how different data aggregations affect the extent and location of overlap. Concurrent overlap was observed on all spatiotemporal scales considered throughout the Antarctic Peninsula and South Orkney Islands region, including near tagging locations and in distant areas where recent fishing activity has concentrated. Overlap occurred at depths where mean krill densities were relatively high. Our results demonstrate that direct overlap of krill-dependent predators with the krill fishery on small spatiotemporal scales is relatively common throughout the Antarctic Peninsula region. As the krill fishery continues to develop and efforts to implement ecosystem-based management mature, indices of overlap may provide a useful metric for indicating where the risks of fishing are highest. A precautionary approach to allocating krill catches in space would be to avoid large increases in catch where overlap on small spatiotemporal scales is common.

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