Overexploitation of world’s largest fisheries has been ascribed to a poor understanding of the dynamics of fishers. However, disentangling the basis of fisher behaviour is not trivial and demands sophisticated social-ecological approaches. Because fishing can be considered analogous to conventional predator-prey systems, the spatial interactions between fish and fishers affect many ecological processes. With the latest developments in biotelemetry, ecologists have gained new skills and opportunities to accurately analyse movement at highly detailed spatial scales. In this project, we plan to use a multidisciplinary approach, including biology, physics and human-dimensions analyses, to simultaneously analyse the spatial behaviour of fish and fishers to assess the dynamics of fisher searches. Accurate, high-quality geo-referenced data will be simultaneously extracted from the field through novel data-acquisition methods and statistical approaches. These data will allow us to re-evaluate the theories of optimal foraging and extend the approach to the most recent variants of these theories by including a stochastic component to the search process. We will also evaluate socially related elements by testing different competition processes that could explain the observed sub-optimal searches performed by fishers in many fisheries. The robustness and predictive capacity of our approach will allow us to obtain an accurate and a compressive description of fisher behaviour dynamics. These results may help improve fishing mortality estimations and therefore fisheries management that could be generalised to worldwide fisheries. Moreover, the approach adopted here will allow us to demonstrate how the variability on human behaviour can be the driver of human-induced selection on the behavioural traits of fish. The results of this project can be directly linked to better protect marine ecosystems, preserve biodiversity and contribute to the sustainable development of fisheries.
Fields of science
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