Identifying overlap between humpback whale foraging grounds and the Antarctic krill fishery
The Antarctic krill fishery is the largest in the southern ocean, but currently operates without fine-scale information on whale movement and behavior. Using a multi-year dataset of satellite-tagged whales, as well as information on krill catch levels, we analyzed the spatial distribution of whales and fisheries effort within the small-scale management units defined by the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). Using a Bayesian movement model to partition whale movement into traveling and area-restricted search states, we found that both whale behavior and krill catch effort were spatially clustered, with distinct hotspots of the whale activity in the Gerlache and southern Branfield Straits. These areas align with increases in krill fishing effort, and present potential areas of current and future conflict. We recommend that the Antarctic West and Bransfield Strait West management units merit particular attention when setting fine-scale catch limits and, more broadly, consideration as critical areas for krill predator foraging.
Weinstein, BG; Double, M; Gales, N; Johnston, DW; Friedlaender, AS
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