Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

A spatially structured tagging model to estimate movement and fishing mortality rates for the blue shark (Prionace glauca) in the North Atlantic Ocean

Alexandre M. Aires-da-Silva A D , Mark N. Maunder B , Vincent F. Gallucci A , Nancy E. Kohler C and John J. Hoey C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, Box 355020, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-5020, USA.

B M. N. Maunder, Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, 8604 La Jolla Shores Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037-1508, USA.

C Narragansett Laboratory, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, 28 Tarzwell Drive, Narragansett, RI 02882-1199, USA.

D Corresponding author. Present address: Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, 8604 La Jolla Shores Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037-1508, USA. Email: alexdasilva@iattc.org

Marine and Freshwater Research 60(10) 1029-1043 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF08235
Submitted: 15 August 2008  Accepted: 10 March 2009   Published: 20 October 2009

Abstract

Large numbers of blue sharks are caught as bycatch, and have even become the target species in pelagic longline fisheries in the North Atlantic Ocean. The status of the stock is ambiguous due to the limitations of the fishery-dependent data. This study presents a spatially structured tagging model to estimate blue shark movement and fishing mortality rates in the North Atlantic Ocean. The model uses the blue shark tag-recovery data collected by the United States National Marine Fisheries Service Cooperative Shark Tagging Program (1965–2004). Four major geographical regions (two on each side of the ocean) are assumed. The blue shark fishing mortality rates (F) were found to be heterogeneous across the four regions. While the estimates of F obtained for the western North Atlantic Ocean were historically lower than 0.1 year–1, the F estimates over the most recent decade (1990s) in the eastern side of the ocean are rapidly approaching 0.2 year–1. Because of the particular life-history of the blue shark, these results suggest careful monitoring of the fishery as the juvenile and pregnant female segments of the stock are highly vulnerable to exploitation in the eastern North Atlantic Ocean.

Additional keywords: fisheries management, shark fisheries, stock assessment, tag reporting, tag shedding.


Acknowledgements

The senior author was supported through doctoral grants by the Fulbright Commission, the Fundação-Luso Americana para o Desenvolvimento (Project number 50/01) in Portugal, and a USA National Marine Fisheries Service contract (NFFM7001-6-21099). We thank André Punt, John Skalski and Ian Taylor at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington (SAFS-UW), for comments on this manuscript. The extensive technical support with the tagging database by Patricia Turner and Ruth Briggs (CSTP-NMFS) is greatly appreciated. Gerald Scott, Papa Kebe and Pilar Palares provided support with the ICCAT longline effort data. We thank Steve Campana and an anonymous reviewer for their invaluable comments on this manuscript. John Jack Casey was the founder of the CSTP and his many years of dedication to the program were critical for the collection of the extensive tagging data. Finally, we thank the collaboration of thousands of sport and commercial fishers, fisheries observers, research vessel captains and crew, tournament officials, US and international cooperating scientists.


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