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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Assessing the spatiotemporal persistence of fish distributions: a case study on red mullet (Mullus surmuletus and M. barbatus) in the western Mediterranean

Iosu Paradinas*, David Conesa, Antonio López-Quílez, Antonio Esteban, Lucía Martina Martín López, José María Bellido, Maria Grazia Pennino

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Understanding the spatiotemporal persistence of fish distributions is key to defining fish hotspots and effective fisheries restricted areas (FRAs). Hierarchical Bayesian spatiotemporal models provide an excellent framework to understand these distributions as they can accommodate different spatiotemporal behaviour in the data, primarily due to their flexibility. The aim of this research is to characterize the fundamental behavioural patterns of fish as persistent, opportunistic or progressive by comparing different spatiotemporal model structures in order to provide better information for marine spatial planning. To illustrate this method, the spatiotemporal distributions of two sympatric Mullidae species, the striped red mullet Mullus surmuletus and the red mullet M. barbatus, are analysed. The occurrence of each species, its conditional-to-presence abundance and median length were analysed using Mediterranean trawl survey data from the western Mediterranean between 2000 and 2016. Results demonstrate that there are various persistent red mullet hotspots distributed along the Iberian coast. The convenient persistent spatiotemporal distribution of these hotspots facilitates the configuration of a network of connected FRAs for red mullets in the study area.