The Ecuadorian Artisanal Fishery for Large Pelagics

paperPublished on 28. August 2015

The Ecuadorian Artisanal Fishery for Large Pelagics: Species Composition and Spatio-Temporal Dynamics

Jimmy Martínez-Ortiz, Alexandre M. Aires-da-Silva, Cleridy E. Lennert-Cody,
Mark N. Maunder


The artisanal fisheries of Ecuador operate within one of the most dynamic and productive marine ecosystems of the world. This study investigates the catch composition of the Ecuadorian artisanal fishery for large pelagic fishes, including aspects of its spatio-temporal dynamics. The analyses of this study are based on the most extensive dataset available to date for this fishery: a total of 106,963 trip-landing inspection records collected at its five principal ports during 2008 ‒ 2012. Ecuadorian artisanal fisheries remove a substantial amount of biomass from the upper trophic-level predatory fish community of the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. It is estimated that at least 135 thousand metric tons (mt) (about 15.5 million fish) were landed in the five principal ports during the study period. The great novelty of Ecuadorian artisanal fisheries is the “oceanic-artisanal” fleet component, which consists of mother-ship (nodriza) boats with their towed fiber-glass skiffs (fibras) operating with pelagic longlines. This fleet has fully expanded into oceanic waters as far offshore as 100°W, west of the Galapagos Archipelago. It is estimated that nodriza operations produce as much as 80% of the total catches of the artisanal fishery. The remainder is produced by independent fibras operating in inshore waters with pelagic longlines and/or surface gillnets. A multivariate regression tree analysis was used to investigate spatio-environmental effects on the nodriza fleet (n = 6,821 trips). The catch species composition of the nodriza fleet is strongly influenced by the northwesterly circulation of the Humboldt Current along the coast of Peru and its associated cold waters masses. The target species and longline gear-type used by nodrizas change seasonally with the incursion of cool waters (< 25°C) from the south and offshore. During this season, dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus) dominates the catches. However, in warmer waters, the fishery changes to tuna-billfish-shark longline gear and the catch composition becomes much more diverse.

PLoS ONE 10(8): e0135136. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0135136



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