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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 430:157-169 (2011)  -  DOI:

Functional response of fishers in the Isle of Man scallop fishery

L. G. Murray1,2,*, H. Hinz1, M. J. Kaiser1

1School of Ocean Sciences, College of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, Askew Street, Menai Bridge LL59 5AB, UK
2Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture, Thie Slieau Whallian, Foxdale Road, St Johns, Isle of Man IM4 3AS, British Isles

ABSTRACT: To implement effective fisheries management, it is important to understand the variables influencing the distribution and intensity of fishing effort. The functional response of consumers to the availability of prey determines their impact on prey populations. The relationship between predator and prey observed in nature also applies to fishers and the populations they target. The present study focuses on the behaviour of a scallop dredging fleet fishing for Pecten maximus around the Isle of Man during a single fishing season. The functional response was investigated by examining the relationships between catches and fishing effort, scallop abundance and other variables. Scallop abundance was depleted rapidly during the first month of fishing. The increased patchiness of scallops towards the end of the season probably reduced their catchability, but fishers were able to maintain catch rates at intermediate abundance levels. The functional response did not conform to a ­particular type, but there was latent fishing capacity in the fishing fleet even at the highest levels of abundance. Therefore, reducing the number of vessels would not necessarily reduce fishing ­mortality unless combined with a reduction in the fishing power of individual vessels.

KEY WORDS: Functional response · Pecten maximus · Fisher behaviour · Optimal foraging · Isle of Man · Scallops

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Cite this article as: Murray LG, Hinz H, Kaiser MJ (2011) Functional response of fishers in the Isle of Man scallop fishery. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 430:157-169.

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