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Disappearing fish: grey seal depredation in a Baltic net fishery (supporting dataset)

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posted on 2024-05-28, 13:20 authored by Gildas GlemarecGildas Glemarec

Grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) in the Baltic Sea commonly attempt to steal fish captured in net fisheries. Seal depredation reduces economic yields for small-scale net fishers in a region already highly impacted by the collapse of important fish stocks. Visible damages in looted nets consist of injured fish with bite marks, or holes in the gear, but additional losses from seals eating entire fish without leaving a trace can often remain unnoticed. In this study, we estimated the daily rates of injured and of stolen fish in a commercial gillnet fishery operating off coast of Bornholm in the Central Baltic Sea in 2021-2022. Our results show that the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) is generally preferred over other target species [here, European plaice (Pleuronectes platessa), European flounder (Platichthys flesus), and turbot (Scophthalmus maximus)]. Although the observed ratio of 5.65 cods disappearing for each cod retrieved with seal bite marks is similar to a study from the 2000’s, we show that average daily cod disappearance rates are linked to the duration a gear is left soaking in the same location.

Funding

European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) under grant agreement nr 33113-i-19-153 with the support of the Danish Ministry of Environment

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