Avoidance of fisheries-induced evolution: management implications for catch selectivity and limit reference points
Hutchings, Jeffrey Alexander
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I examined how the fitness (r) associated with early-and late-maturing genotypes varies with fishing mortality (F) and age-/size-specific probability of capture. Life-history data on Newfoundland's northern Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) allowed for the estimation of r for individuals maturing at 4 and 7 year in the absence of fishing. Catch selectivity data associated with four types of fishing gear (trap, gillnet, handline, otter trawl) were then incorporated to examine how r varied with gear type and with F. The resulting fitness functions were then used to estimate the F above which selection would favour early (4 year) rather than delayed (7 year) maturity. This evolutionarily-sensitive threshold, F(evol), identifies a limit reference point somewhat similar to those used to define overfishing (e. g., F(msy), F(0.1)). Over-exploitation of northern cod resulted in fishing mortalities considerably greater than those required to effect evolutionary change. Selection for early maturity is reduced by the domeshaped selectivities characteristic of fixed gears such as handlines (the greater the leptokurtosis, the lower the probability of a selection response) and enhanced by the knife-edged selectivities of bottom trawls. Strategies to minimize genetic change are consistent with traditional management objectives (e. g., yield maximization, population increase). Compliance with harvest control rules guided by evolutionarily-sensitive limit reference points, which may be achieved by adherence to traditional reference points such as F(msy) and F(0.1), should be sufficient to minimize the probability of fisheries-induced evolution for commercially exploited species.
Hutchings, Jeffrey A.. 2009. "Avoidance of fisheries-induced evolution: management implications for catch selectivity and limit reference points." Evolutionary Applications 2(3): 324-334.