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The impact of the sandeel fishery closure in the northwestern North Sea on seabird food consumption, distribution and productivity

Daunt, Francis; Wanless, Sarah; Greenstreet, Simon P. R.; Jensen, Henrik; Hamer, Keith C.; Harris, Michael P.. 2008 The impact of the sandeel fishery closure in the northwestern North Sea on seabird food consumption, distribution and productivity. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 65 (3). 362-381. 10.1139/F07-164

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Abstract/Summary

In the North Sea, the lesser sandeel (Ammodytes marinus) is the target of an industrial fishery and the principal prey of many top predators. Because of concerns about potential effects on predators, the sandeel fishery off eastern Scotland was closed in 2000, and local sandeel abundance increased subsequently. To examine whether closure benefitted sandeel-dependent seabirds, we compared summer sandeel consumption, at-sea distributions, and breeding success of seven species with fishery removals and abundance of older (1+ group) and young-of-the-year (0 group) sandeels from 1996 to 2003. Breeding success of black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla), a species that has declined in recent decades, was related to abundance of both 1+ group (the age class targeted by the fishery) and 0 group sandeels. The proportion of 0 group consumed by kittiwakes and proportion of the kittiwake population foraging in the area were linked to 0 group abundance. None of these parameters in the other seabird species were associated with sandeel abundance. Our results suggest that fishery closure can have a beneficial impact on top predators sensitive to variation in abundance of the target species, although environmental conditions before and after closure are also likely to be critically important.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1139/F07-164
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biodiversity
CEH Sections: Watt
ISSN: 0706-652X
NORA Subject Terms: Marine Sciences
Zoology
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 14 Oct 2008 14:08
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/3964

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