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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 349:151-158 (2007)  -  DOI:

Sea scallop mass mortality in a Marine Protected Area

Kevin D. E. Stokesbury1,*, Bradley P. Harris1, Michael C. Marino II1, Jacob I. Nogueira2

1Department of Fisheries Oceanography, School for Marine Science and Technology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and University of Massachusetts School of Marine Sciences, 838 South Rodney French Boulevard, New Bedford, Massachusetts 02744-1221, USA
2Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University, 120 Oceanview Boulevard, Pacific Grove, California 93950, USA

ABSTRACT: A mass mortality of the sea scallop Placopecten magellanicus occurred between 2004 and 2005 in the Nantucket Lightship Closed Area (NLCA), a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Great South Channel, USA. On a broad scale (3951 km2), scallop density (ind. m–2) in the MPA declined by 35%. On a fine scale (504 km2), in the northeast corner of the MPA where most scallops occur, density declined by 50%. The scallops that perished were large and probably old; 80% had shell heights >130 mm (H = 155 mm). Only 6% of the decline in the northeast corner was explained by fishing mortality. The mass mortality equaled approximately 6484 metric tons of harvestable scallop meat (equivalent to US $100 million ex-vessel). Closing the NLCA to fishing in 1994 removed fishing mortality, increasing scallop survival rates. Scallops that recruited in 1994 reached 10 yr of age in 2004. Individuals of this age may suffer the effects of senescence, including parasitism by shell borers and prokaryotic infection, which likely caused the mass mortality. If MPAs are used to manage fisheries, surveys with the accuracy and precision to resolve population dynamics on the spatial scale of the MPA are required or the benefits may be offset by increases in natural mortality.

KEY WORDS: Sea scallop · Placopecten magellanicus · Mass mortality · Video survey · Georges Bank · Marine Protected Area

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Cite this article as: Stokesbury KDE, Harris BP, II MCM, Nogueira JI (2007) Sea scallop mass mortality in a Marine Protected Area. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 349:151-158.

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