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Monitoring Antarctic toothfish in McMurdo Sound to evaluate the Ross Sea region Marine Protected Area

  • S.J. Parker (a1), S. Mormede (a2), S.M. Hanchet (a1), A. Devries (a3), S. Canese (a4) and L. Ghigliotti (a5)...

Abstract

We developed a random, stratified, vertical longline survey in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, to compare the local age and size composition, diet and reproductive status of Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) with those observed from a vessel-based survey of the southern Ross Sea shelf that includes a McMurdo Sound stratum. Results indicated that southern McMurdo Sound toothfish were larger and older than those a short distance away in northern McMurdo Sound. These data, in addition to recoveries of tagged fish, suggest that the large toothfish in McMurdo Sound may have limited mixing with the rest of the population. The potential effects of climate change and fishing in northern areas on toothfish abundance in McMurdo Sound will depend on the mechanism of toothfish recruitment to McMurdo Sound. Understanding the ecological relationships between McMurdo Sound toothfish and the larger population is required to predict these impacts. Furthermore, because toothfish predators (type C killer whales Orcinus orca, Weddell seals Leptonychotes weddellii) are abundant in the south-west margins of the Ross Sea, it is important to monitor toothfish in McMurdo Sound as part of the monitoring programme for the Ross Sea region Marine Protected Area.

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