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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Responses of a pelagic fish community to reduced fishing pressure in the central Bering Sea

Masa-aki Fukuwaka*, Nancy D. Davis

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Ecosystem-based fishery management (EBFM) requires minimizing the risk of irreversible change to a natural assemblage of species. Because pelagic fisheries modify the biotic community, rather than the physical environment and often target migratory species, the pelagic community can be expected to respond quickly after reducing fishing pressure. We monitored the pelagic zooplanktivore community during four decades in the central Bering Sea before and after the closures of large-scale pelagic fisheries. We found a quick and steep change in the pelagic fish community structure after reducing fishing pressure, which reflected increased abundance of salmon species. However, walleye pollock stocks, one of the most valuable fisheries resources in this area, have not recovered after reducing fishing pressure. A lower population growth rate might contribute to the slow recovery of pollock stocks. Long-term ecosystem monitoring of fishing grounds and surrounding ecosystems will be required for successful implementation of EBFM of pelagic fish stocks.