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Fishing and the oceanography of a stratified shelf sea

Sharples, Jonathan; Ellis, Jim R.; Nolan, Glenn; Scott, Beth E.. 2013 Fishing and the oceanography of a stratified shelf sea. Progress in Oceanography, 117. 130-139. 10.1016/j.pocean.2013.06.014

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Abstract/Summary

Fishing vessel position data from the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) were used to investigate fishing activity in the Celtic Sea, a seasonally-stratifying, temperate region on the shelf of northwest Europe. The spatial pattern of fishing showed that three main areas are targeted: (1) the Celtic Deep (an area of deeper water with fine sediments), (2) the shelf edge, and (3) an area covering several large seabed banks in the central Celtic Sea. Data from each of these regions were analysed to examine the contrasting seasonality of fishing activity, and to highlight where the spring-neap tidal cycle appears to be important to fishing. The oceanographic characteristics of the Celtic Sea were considered alongside the distribution and timing of fishing, illustrating likely contrasts in the underlying environmental drivers of the different fished regions. In the central Celtic Sea, fishing mainly occurred during the stratified period between April and August. Based on evidence provided in other papers of this Special Issue, we suggest that the fishing in this area is supported by (1) a broad increase in primary production caused by lee-waves generated by seabed banks around spring tides driving large supplies of nutrients into the photic zone, and (2) greater concentrations of zooplankton within the region influenced by the seabed banks and elevated primary production. In contrast, while the shelf edge is a site of elevated surface chlorophyll, previous work has suggested that the periodic mixing generated by an internal tide at the shelf edge alters the size–structure of the phytoplankton community which fish larvae from the spawning stocks along the shelf edge are able to exploit. The fishery for Nephrops norvegicus in the Celtic Deep was the only one to show a significant spring-neap cycle, possibly linked to Nephrops foraging outside their burrows less during spring tides. More tentatively, the fishery for Nephrops correlated most strongly with a localised shift in the tidal current polarisation, suggesting that the muddy seabed required by Nephrops is controlled by rotational constraints on the extent of the bottom boundary layer.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.pocean.2013.06.014
ISSN: 00796611
Date made live: 13 Nov 2013 16:17 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/503840

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