Fine-scale spatial variation of northern shrimp and Atlantic cod across three Norwegian fjord systems and implications for management
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 2023, 292, 108435. 10.1016/j.ecss.2023.108435
The spatial complexity of coastal ecosystems represents a challenge for the management of inshore resources. Here we compared two large fjord systems in northern Norway that have been closed for all bottom trawling for 50 years to a fjord with continuous shrimp fishery with bottom trawls. No significant differences were found between fjords with and without commercial trawling in population density and stock composition of northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis) and their main predator, Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). Shrimp density was instead linked with bottom depth, while shrimp size and stage composition as well as cod density were explained by seasonal effects and shrimp density. For shrimp, a large degree of the observed variation was captured by spatial correlation that could not be explained by other covariates. The results underline the complex ecology in heavily structured coastal habitats and indicate that coastal shrimp dynamics are shaped by an interplay of multiple ecological and environmental drivers, possibly in concert with local genetic adaptations. The substantial fine-scale spatial variation adds to the challenges of assessing and managing fisheries resources in these fjord ecosystems. Because shrimp are an important forage species, notably as prey for cod, there are potential management conflicts between rebuilding cod stocks and reopening closed shrimp trawling areas.