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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 484:279-286 (2013)  -  DOI:

Fishery management has a strong effect on the distribution of Audouin’s gull

Albert Cama1,2,*, José Bort3, Isadora Christel1,2, David R. Vieites2,4, Xavier Ferrer1

1Institut de Recerca de la Biodiversitat i Departament de Biologia Animal, Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona,
08028 Barcelona, Spain
2Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), C/ José Gutiérrez Abascal 2, 28006 Madrid, Spain
3Grup d’Estudi i Protecció dels Rapinyaires. C/ Bisbe Rocamora, 37 2-A, 12540 Vila-real,Castelló, Spain
4REFER Biodiversity Chair, University of Porto, CIBIO, Campus Agrário de Vairão, R. Padre Armando Quintas,
4485-661 Vairão, Portugal

ABSTRACT: The effect of fisheries on seabirds is a key issue for seabird conservation and management. Fish discards, for instance, are an important and significant food resource for many bird species. Despite extensive research, the attractiveness of fishing fleets to seabirds has not been fully explored. We compare the densities of the near-threatened Audouin’s gull Larus audouinii in 2 areas off the Ebro delta (NW Mediterranean) which are affected by 2 trawling moratoria in different months of the breeding season (May–June and July–August, respectively). We assessed and quantified the effect of fisheries and moratoria on the species’ density in both areas under both fishing scenarios by monthly aerial surveys. The gull’s distribution is strongly influenced by the trawling moratoria as it overlaps with that of the operating trawlers. Audouin’s gulls are scarcer in areas where trawling is prohibited. A complementary analysis of the presence of color-ringed L. audouinii at Tarragona and Borriana harbours (located 75 km north and 100 km south of the delta, respectively) showed similar results, with a decrease in the number of individuals during the span of the moratoria. Our findings highlight the strong influence of fisheries on the distribution of L. audouinii. The strong dependence of L. audouinii on discards from the fishing fleet suggests that the management and conservation of this species must be directly linked to fishery management by the respective stakeholders. This will help ensure the long-term sustainability of L. audouinii colonies in this marine important bird area.

KEY WORDS: Seabird · Distribution · Larus audouinii · Ecology · Trawling · Fishery moratorium · Ebro delta · Mediterranean Sea

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Cite this article as: Cama A, Bort J, Christel I, Vieites DR, Ferrer X (2013) Fishery management has a strong effect on the distribution of Audouin’s gull. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 484:279-286.

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