Meta‐analysis of post‐release fishing mortality in apex predatory pelagic sharks

Published on
12. March 2019

Meta‐analysis of post‐release fishing mortality in apex predatory pelagic sharks and white marlin

Michael K. Musyl, Eric L. Gilman


Robust assessments of the effects of fishing require accounting for components of fishing mortality, including post‐release fishing mortality (Fr). Random‐effects meta‐analysis synthesized Fr in seven pelagic shark species captured, tagged and released with 401 pop‐up satellite archival tags compiled from 33 studies and three gears (longline, purse‐seine, rod & reel). The majority of Fr outcomes occurred within days of release, and the summary effect size for Fr was 0.27 [95% CI: 0.19–0.36], ranging from a low pooled effect size of 0.17 for blue shark (Prionace glauca, Carcharhinidae) to 0.38 (silky shark, Carcharhinus falciformis, Carcharhinidae). Fr rates in blue shark were consistent over dissimilar spatial and temporal scales, and results from earlier meta‐analysis were replicated, which is the most powerful way to authenticate results. Condition at tagging was a strong predictor, and dichotomized survival outcomes in silky shark and no sex‐, size‐, location‐ or gear‐specific Fr rates were demonstrated. Meta‐analyses and sensitivity analyses indicated exposure to risk factors and conditions whilst caught on the gear probably had the largest explanatory effect on Fr, rather than stressors incurred during handling and release. Records from 549 tagged istiophorid billfishes (six species, three gears, 43 studies) demonstrated they are more robust to stressors sustained during capture, handling and release than pelagic sharks. Findings from previous meta‐analysis on Fr rates in white marlin (Kajikia albida, Istiophoridae) were replicated. Synthesized Fr rates enable prioritizing approaches to mitigate by‐catch fishing mortality, to improve the quality of stock and ecological risk assessments and to expand our knowledge of factors influencing trophic structure.

Fish and Fisheries, Early View, DOI 10.1111/faf.12358


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