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The fisherman is a predator like any other

For Peru fishing is a prime source of foreign exchange, second only to mining. The countrys anchovy fishing fleet, which seeks the Peruvian anchovy Engraulis ringens, is the worlds largest single-species fishery, with an average of 8% of global landings. For safety and monitoring purposes, vessels have the statutory obligation to be equipped with satellite geopositioning indicators, seeing that industrial-scale fishing is prohibited within a band of 5 nautical miles (about 9 kilometres) from the coast. This satellite device, the vessel monitoring system (VMS), gives the real-time position of the vessels to an accuracy of 100 m, communicated to bodies responsible for vessel movement recording and scientific monitoring of fishing.

Scientists from the IRD and the Peruvian Institute of the Sea (IMARPE) used this high-resolution spatial information to characterize vessel movement in campaigns targeting shoals of this anchovy species, a pelagic fish that usually lives and builds up off the coasts. These methods shed light on the spatial interactions between fish and fishermen and enabled researchers to devise new tools that could improve monitoring and hence operational fish stock management.

The characteristics of movements traced between December 1999 and March 2003 by the 809 vessel fleet were compared with those of theoretical movement models usually applied to study trajectories of animals. (2)

The results showed that in their search for fish concentrations, the fishermen adopted movement strategies similar to those described for natural predators, such as albatross or seals. Attributes considered as characteristically human, like the use of detection technologies (sonar, echo-sounding), communications (radio between vessels), and also economic motives or attachment to a port, did not produce a prey search strategy radically different from that of animal predators. Whether human or not, top predators of marine ecosystems must confront a d
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Contact: Marie Guillaume
fichesactu@paris.ird.fr
33-014-803-7607
Institut de Recherche Pour le Dveloppement
5-Jun-2007


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