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Ecosystem of the South East Fishery (Australia), and fisher lore

Prince, J.D. (2001) Ecosystem of the South East Fishery (Australia), and fisher lore. Marine and Freshwater Research, 52 (4). pp. 431-449.

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A description of the marine ecosystem that sustains fisheries production around south-eastern Australia is based on a synthesis of fisher lore of the demersal trawling sector, a review of the literature and a decade of the author's field observations. A wide range of species are fished demersally in the South East Fishery (SEF). Until recently, managers and researchers have often implicitly assumed that many of these demersally caught species were neritic and lived in close association with the seabed. In contrast, fisher lore emphasizes the pelagic and oceanic nature of the commercial resource together with its environmentally forced variability. This paper substantially supports the views of the fishers. Up to 90% of the primary production of the SEF ecosystem may be garnered by fish foraging through extensive, but relatively sparse, oceanic phytoplankton and gelatinous zooplankton communities. Sporadically, climatic conditions cause oceanographic features to interact with shelf-break features and create ephemeral hotspots of primary production along the shelf break. Fish of the SEF take advantage of these productivity events to aggregate for feeding and breeding and their episodes of aggregation and dispersion cause the large seasonal variations in catchability observed with the shelf-break species. Implications for ecosystem management are briefly discussed.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
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