[MARMAM] New paper published: Whales and fisheries

Lyne Morissette lyne.morissette at globetrotter.net
Fri Apr 16 07:35:49 PDT 2010

Dear colleagues,

The following article has just been published in this month's issue of  
Marine Ecology Progress Series (MEPS):

Ecosystem models clarify the trophic role of whales off Northwest Africa

ABSTRACT: There is global concern about the interaction between whales  
and fisheries, and in some countries, great whales are viewed as a  
threat to fisheries by potentially eating fish species that could be  
exploited for human consumption. We developed an ecosystem model to  
explore the trophic interactions between cetaceans and fisheries off  
Northwest Africa and to examine the potential impact of a reduction in  
the abundance of baleen whales on fishery yields. This allowed us to  
characterize the structure and function of the ecosystem in terms of  
biomass, mortalities, consumption rates, food habits, and fisheries.  
Faced with sparse data for our study area, we explicitly accounted for  
uncertainty in ecosystem structure, model accuracy, and input data and  
conducted an extensive sensitivity analysis. We tested model  
performance with time series of biomass and catches for important  
species of the system. Our results indicate that the overlap between  
prey species consumed by cetaceans and species targeted in fisheries  
is low. Furthermore, for a wide range of assumptions about whale  
abundances, diet composition, and food consumption in breeding areas,  
we found that whale consumption is several orders of magnitude lower  
than total fishery catches and 2 orders of magnitude lower than the  
amounts taken by other trophic groups. Finally, simulations of  
substantial reductions of whale populations did not influence the  
biomass of commercially important fish, nor any other species of the  
foodweb. These results suggest that fisheries yields would not benefit  
from the removal of whales in this area.

The article can be downloaded from MEPS website (http://www.int-res.com/abstracts/meps/v404/p289-302/ 
) or you can contact the first author for PDF copies (lyne.morissette at globetrotter.net 

Lyne Morissette, Ph.D.
Institut des Sciences de la Mer de Rimouski (UQAR-ISMER)
email: lyne.morissette at globetrotter.net
Tél. 418-723-1986 #1981 | Sans-fil 418-750-5685

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