Effects of artisanal fisheries on the scorpaenids (Scorpaena spp.) reproduction in the marine protected area of Cap de Creus (NW Mediterranean)

Rockfish species are considered important to the ecology of rocky-reef communities which constitute a key habitat in many coastal marine protected areas (MPAs). These species, which are commercially valuable for artisanal fisheries in the Mediterranean, display particular biological traits that could render them vulnerable to fishing. In this study we monitored the artisanal fisheries of scorpaenids (Scorpaena spp.) in the MPA of Cap de Creus (northwestern Mediterranean) in order to estimate the status of their populations, to link captures with the reproduction of these species, and to evaluate the potential impact that artisanal fishing may have on them. Data from onboard sampling with artisanal fishermen and from fisheries statistics (total landings) were used. Total landings and catch per unit of effort (CPUE) follow a clearly seasonal cycle, with a prominent peak during the summer months coinciding with their spawning season, which may be due to mating behavior prior to fertilization. Although maximum sizes are bigger inside the MPA than in non-protected areas situated close by, a significant percentage of individuals caught inside the MPA are below their size at sexual maturity. Although rockfish seem to be favored by the partial protection of the MPA, the allowed artisanal fisheries are probably impacting the reproduction of these species ​
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