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Ecologically and evolutionarily sustainable fishing of the pikeperch Sander lucioperca: Lake Oulujärvi as an example

Vainikka, Anssi, Hyvärinen, Pekka
Fisheries research 2012 v.113 no.1 pp. 8-20
Sander lucioperca, aquacultural and fisheries equipment, biomass, fish, freshwater fisheries, harvesting, lakes, models, mortality, overfishing, sport fishing, sustainable fisheries
Due to the multitude of participants and a diverse range of fishing gear used freshwater fisheries are often managed using minimum size limits (MSL) rather than regulations of total fishing effort. However, a concern has arisen whether attempts to improve ecological sustainability of fisheries by increasing MSLs would induce undesired adaptations to selective fishing. We examined the ecological and evolutionary impacts of varying fishing mortality rates under varying MSLs, with and without stockings, in an age-, size-, and maturity-structured evolutionary model which was parameterized for the Lake Oulujärvi pikeperch, Sander lucioperca. We found that at the current level of harvesting (fishing mortality rate, F=0.7) and stockings (430000 year⁻¹), and under the assumption of strongly density-dependent growth, the nation-wide MSL of 370mm maximizes theoretical biomass yield in a deterministic model but does not prevent severe recruitment overfishing under further increased fishing pressures or stochasticity in recruitment success. The recently imposed, local MSL of 450mm better ensures stable yields, and even increases them if individual growth is density-independent, but further increase of MSL to 500mm would already reduce yield especially if there was discard mortality for undersized fish. Given density-dependent growth, equal survival between wild and stocked fish, and sustainable fishing mortality rate, stockings do not increase yield or significantly improve the stability of yields. Evolutionarily stable size at maturation decreases under strong fishing mortality, but increased MSLs reduce the magnitude of this undesired effect. Negatively size-dependent natural mortality was found to have a positive effect on the otherwise negative selection for length-at-age. Increased MSLs also reduce the total selection for decreased length-at-age. Our results support the intentions to increase MSLs in order to improve both ecological and evolutionary sustainability of recreational fisheries.