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Effects of environmental and habitat characteristics on condition and reproduction of exploited marine fish populations


Despite evidence of important ecological linkages between habitat and fishery production, the management of most commercial resources world-wide has historically concentrated on assessing stock size and controlling fishing mortality. In addition, biologica l processes such as fish condition, fecundity and maturity, which are important features of future population success, are not commonly used to evaluate the quality of fish habitats, and are not taken into account by the current assessment methodologies of exploited fish. This project addresses new fields in fisheries biology and management, which move towards ecosystem-based approaches that strive to study and protect habitats vital to self-sustaining populations of living resources, and towards the consid eration of fish physiology in fisheries assessment. Firstly, this re-integration project aims to analyse the influence of productive and structurally complex habitats (e.g. submarine canyons, the continental slope and areas influenced by river runoff) on t he condition and reproductive potential of two exploited fish species. The use of fish condition to evaluate the quality of fish habitat aims to provide useful information on which fisheries managers could base decisions about the timing and location of ma rine protected areas, and to detect reserve effects on fish populations. Secondly, this projects aims to explore the utilisation of fish condition as an explanatory variable of reproductive potential, in order to improve future stocks assessments. These st udies constitute a promising research field to help management and preservation of fishery resources, fish habitats and marine biodiversity. The proposal addresses research fields included in the FP6-thematic priority 6, which are important to management o f marine resources and habitats.

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Serrano 117

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