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Ecological and conservation aspects of bycatch fishes: An evaluation of shrimp fisheries impacts in Northeastern Brazil

Fishes accidentally caught, commonly known as bycatch, usually have no economic importance and are not reported in official statistics, being frequently discarded at sea (Crowder and Murawski, 1998CROWDER, L. B. & MURAWSKI, S. A. 1998. Fisheries Bycatch: Implications for Management. Fisheries, 23, 8-17.). This bycatch contributes to alterations in the ecosystem, decline of populations, catch of juveniles and endangered species, threatening many marine populations (Pascoe, 1997PASCOE, S. 1997. Bycatch management and the economics of discarding. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper, Rome, FAO.). Despite significant efforts carried out towards the mitigation of the bycatch (Hazen et al., 2018HAZEN, E. L., SCALES, K. L., MAXWELL, S. M., BRISCOE, D. K., WELCH, H., BOGRAD, S. J., BAILEY, H., BENSON, S. R., EGUCHI, T., DEWAR, H., KOHIN, S., COSTA, D. P., CROWDER, L. B. & LEWISON, R. B. 2018. A dynamic ocean management tool to reduce bycatch and support sustainable fisheries. Science Advances, 4, eaar3001.), basic biological information is lacking for many non-target species, hampering the assessment of the real impact of this incidental catch and application of sustainable management actions in an ecosystem viewpoint.

Length-weight relationships (LWR) may be used to infer body condition indices, to estimate the fish weight from a known length and vice versa (Froese, 2006FROESE, R. 2006. Cube law, condition factor and weight-length relationships: history, meta‐analysis and recommendations. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 22, 241-253.) and is often used as an input parameter in stock assessment and ecological modeling (Vaz-dos-Santos and Rossi-Wongtschowski, 2013VAZ-DOS-SANTOS, A. M. & ROSSI-WONGTSCHOWSKI, C. L. D. B. 2013. Length-weight relationships of the ichthyofauna associated with the Brazilian sardine, Sardinella brasiliensis, on the Southeastern Brazilian Bight (22°S-29°S) between 2008 and 2010. Biota Neotropica, l13, 326-330.).

In the Northeastern of Brazil, the shrimp fisheries are predominantly artisanal, carried out mainly by motorized artisanal trawling boats and, in some cases, beach seine nets (Dias Neto, 2011DIAS NETO, J. 2011. Proposta de Plano Nacional de Gestão para o uso Sustentável de Camarões Marinhos do Brasil. Brasília, DF. IBAMA). This activity is focused on shallow waters and has great social-economic importance, since approximately 100,000 persons depend directly or indirectly of this fishery for their living (Santos et al., 2006SANTOS, M. C. F., PEREIRA, J. A. & IVO, C. T. C. 2006. A pesca do camarão branco Litopenaeus schmitti (Burkenroad, 1936) (Crustacea , Decapoda, Penaeidae) no nordeste do Brasil. Boletim Técnico Científico do CEPENE, 14, 33-58.). Previous studies focusing on the bycatch species in the northeast of Brazil (Silva-Júnior et al., 2013SILVA JÚNIOR, C. A. B., ARAÚJO, M. E. & FEITOSA, C. V. 2013. Sustainability of capture of fish bycatch in the prawn trawling in northeastern Brazil. Neotropical Ichthyology, 11, 133-142.; Eduardo et al., 2019EDUARDO, L. N., FRÉDOU, T., LIRA, A. S., SILVA, L. V., FERREIRA, B. P., BERTRAND, A., MÉNARD, F. & LUCENA-FRÉDOU, F. 2019. Length-weight relationship of thirteen demersal fishes from the tropical Brazilian continental shelf. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 35(2), 590-593.; Lira et al., in pressLIRA A.S., VIANA A.P., EDUARDO L.N., LUCENA-FRÉDOU F., FRÉDOU T. Population structure, size at first sexual maturity, and feeding ecology of Conodon nobilis (Perciformes, Haemulidae) from the coast of Pernambuco, Northeastern Brazil. Acta Ichthyologica et Piscatoria, v.49, n.4, 2019 (In press).) provided valuable biological and population information of a variety of species. However, many species still lack basic knowledge that is required for management and conservation actions, such as length-weight relationships and size at first gonadal maturity and also indicators of the ecological roles of the fish species, especially those related to the balancing of the marine food web which may influence the composition of this ecosystem (Elliott et al., 2007ELLIOTT, M., WHITFIELD, A. K., POTTER, I. C., BLABER, S. J. M., CYRUS, D. P., NORDLIE, F. G. & HARRISON, T. D. 2007. The guild approach to categorizing estuarine fish assemblages: a global review. Fish and Fisheries, 8, 241-268.).

In this study, we provide LWR information and a review of literature addressing the size at first maturity, conservation status, and trophic and functional guilds of thirty-three fishes captured incidentally in a shrimp fishery in Northeast Brazil. We expect that this information may contribute to the general biological knowledge and hence to the sustainable management and conservation of these bycatch fish species.

The study was conducted in the municipality of Lucena (6° 53ʹ50" S and 34° 51ʹ01" W) on the coast of the state of Paraíba, Northeastern Brazil (Figure 1). Specimens were collected monthly from December 2016 to November 2017 using one of the local beach seines (out of 8), representative of the overall fleet, which is the predominant fishing modality in the region to catch shrimp. This net (side length of body mesh: 2 cm, side length of cod-end mesh: 1.5 cm, entrance dimensions horizontal x vertical: 120 × 6 m) was deployed from a small, non-motorized craft. Two trawls (50 minutes from the moment of the deployment of the net to the end of the operation) were performed monthly. Trawls were carried out from 6 m deep to the surf zone and a maximum distance of 500 m from shore.

Figure 1
Map of the study area, coast of the state of Paraiba, Brazil.

Individuals were identified, measured (nearest 0.1 cm total length TL) and weighed (nearest 0.01 g in total weight TW). The LWR values were estimated for species with n > 30 specimens, using the equation: TW = a × TLb, where TW is the total weight (in g); TL is the total length (in cm); a is the intercept of the regression curve (intercept of TW when TL is zero or initial growth coefficient) and b is the regression slope. This coefficient generally varies between 2.5 and 3.5, and the relation is considered isometric when b = 3 (all fish increase at the same rate), positive allometric when b > 3 (increases more in weight than predicted by its increase in length) or negative allometric when b < 3 (fish increases less in weight than predicted by its increase in length) (Froese, 2006FROESE, R. 2006. Cube law, condition factor and weight-length relationships: history, meta‐analysis and recommendations. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 22, 241-253.; Froese et al., 2011FROESE, R., TSIKLIRAS, A. C. & STERGIOU, K. I. 2011. Editorial note on weight-length relations of fishes. Acta Ichthyologica Et Piscatoria, 41, 261-263.). Prior to calculation of the LWR, outliers for each species were graphically identified and removed using TL versus TW plots (Froese and Binohlan, 2000FROESE, R. & BINOHLAN, C. 2000. Empirical relationships to estimate asymptotic length, length at first maturity and length at maximum yield per recruit in fishes, with a simple method to evaluate length frequency data. Journal of Fish Biology, 56, 758-773.). The significance of the regression was tested by ANOVA and the degree of association between TW and SL was calculated by the determination coefficient (r2).

For each species, it was recorded information on size at first maturity (L50) and maximum length (Lmax), available in the literature. Species were classified according to estuarine use functional groups (EUFG) as proposed by Elliott et al. (2007)ELLIOTT, M., WHITFIELD, A. K., POTTER, I. C., BLABER, S. J. M., CYRUS, D. P., NORDLIE, F. G. & HARRISON, T. D. 2007. The guild approach to categorizing estuarine fish assemblages: a global review. Fish and Fisheries, 8, 241-268.: marine straggler (MS), marine migrants (MM) and estuarine species (ES), and by the feeding mode functional groups (FMFG), based on information contained in the literature on food strategies, according to the categories proposed by Elliott et al. (2007)ELLIOTT, M., WHITFIELD, A. K., POTTER, I. C., BLABER, S. J. M., CYRUS, D. P., NORDLIE, F. G. & HARRISON, T. D. 2007. The guild approach to categorizing estuarine fish assemblages: a global review. Fish and Fisheries, 8, 241-268.: zooplanktivore (ZP), detritivore (DV), piscivorous (PV), zoobenthivore (ZB), herbivore (HV) and omnivore (OV). In addition, the conservation status of the species recorded in this study were based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List criteria, accessed by classification at the regional level (ICMBio, 2018ICMBIO (Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade). 2008. Livro Vermelho Livro Vermelho da Fauna Brasileira. In: Livro Vermelho da Fauna Brasileira Ameaçada de Extinção. Brasília, DF: ICMBio: Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade.), which comprises 10 categories: extinct (EX), regionally extinct (RE), extinct in the wild (EW), critically endangered (CR), endangered (EN), vulnerable (VU), near threatened (NT), least concern (LC), data deficient (DD) and not evaluated (NE).

A total of 10,992 individuals of 11 families and 4 orders and 33 species were analyzed (Table 1). According to the IUCN classification, 29 species were categorized as least concern (LC), 3 species as data deficient (DD) (Menticirrhus americanus, Ophioscion punctatissimus and Bagre marinus) and 1 species as near threatened (NT) (Bagre bagre), these last two categories deserving attention for management and conservation purposes (Table 1).

Table 1
Family and species of 33 species captured in a shrimp fisheries in Northeastern Brazil. Number of individuals (N), TL: total length (minimum and maximum), TW: total weight (minimum and maximum), a and b: regression parameters of LWRs (confidence interval), r2: determination coefficient, length at first maturity (L50), maximum length (Lmax). IUCN classification (data deficient (DD), least concern (LC), near threatened (NT), not evaluated (NE)); feeding mode functional groups (FMFG), zoobenthivore (ZB), piscivorous (PV), zooplanktivore (ZP), herbivore (HV) and omnivore (OV) ); estuarine use functional group (EUFG), marine migrants (MM), marine straggler (MS) and estuarine species (ES)). (* without information of LWRs parameters for Brazil; ** Without information of LWRs parameters for Northeastern Brazil); (female (F), male (M), unidentified (U), pooled sexes (P)).

All LWR were highly significant (p < 0.01), with the coefficient of determination (r2) ranging from 0.901 and 0.989. The value of the parameter (b) ranged between 2.45 for O. mucronatus and 3.498 from A. spinifer. Except for O. mucronatus, all species analysed in this study had the allometric coefficient (b) between the expected range of 2.5 to 3.5 (Froese, 2006FROESE, R. 2006. Cube law, condition factor and weight-length relationships: history, meta‐analysis and recommendations. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 22, 241-253.). The allometric coefficient (b) for the length-weight ratio reflects intrinsic characteristics, and adaptive process of each species, as reproductive or environmental ontogenetic variations, and mainly, between sexes (Froese, 2006FROESE, R. 2006. Cube law, condition factor and weight-length relationships: history, meta‐analysis and recommendations. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 22, 241-253.).

The classification in functional guilds is widely used to investigate the composition, and spatial-temporal distribution of ichthyofauna (Akin et al., 2005AKIN, S., BUHAN, E., WINEMILLER, K. O. & YILMAZ, H. 2005. Fish assemblage structure of Koycegiz Lagoon-Estuary, Turkey: Spatial and temporal distribution patterns in relation to environmental variation. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 64, 671-684.; Ferreira et al., 2019FERREIRA, V., LE LOC'H, F., MÉNARD, F., FRÉDOU, T. & FRÉDOU, F. L. 2019. Composition of the fish fauna in a tropical estuary: the ecological guild approach. Scientia Marina, 83, 133-142.). This approach can be used to simplify the understanding of complex ecosystems by generating information about the hierarchical structure and connectivity (Garrison and Link, 2000GARRISON, L. P., & LINK, J. S. (2000). Dietary guild structure of the fish community in the Northeast United States continental shelf ecosystem. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 202, 231-240.; Angel and Ojeda, 2001ANGEL, A. & OJEDA, F. P. 2001. Structure and trophic organization of subtidal fish assemblages on the northern Chilean coast: The effect of habitat complexity. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 217, 81-91.; Franco et al., 2008FRANCO, A., ELLIOTT, M., FRANZOI, P. & TORRICELLI, P. 2008. Life strategies of fishes in European estuaries: The functional guild approach. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 354, 219-228.; Nicolas et al., 2010NICOLAS, D., LOBRY, J., LE PAPE, O. & BOËT, P. 2010. Functional diversity in European estuaries: Relating the composition of fish assemblages to the abiotic environment. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 88, 329-338.) investigating anthropic stressors, including the effect of fishing (Auster and Link, 2009AUSTER, P. J. & LINK, J. S. 2009. Compensation and recovery of feeding guilds in a northwest Atlantic shelf fish community. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 382, 163-172.). According to the feeding mode functional groups (FMFG), 19 species were classified as zoobenthivore (ZB), 7 species as piscivorous (PV), 4 species zooplanktivore (ZP), 2 species herbivore (HV), and 1 species omnivore (OV). The predation of detritivores organisms and the interaction with sedimentary organic matter carried out by zoobenthivores play an important role between primary consumers and higher trophic levels in the food web (Duarte and Andreata, 2003DUARTE, G. A. S. & ANDREATA, J. V. 2003. Hábito alimentar das espécies de achiridae e cynoglossidae que ocorrem na Baía da Ribeira, Angra dos Reis, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. Bioikos (PUC-Campinas), 17, 39-48.).

Lycengraulis grossidens, Chirocentrodon bleekerianus, Pellona harroweri and Stellifer rastrifer were caught above the maximum size described in the literature. We observed the predominant catch of specimens below the length of first maturation (89% of the individuals) (Table 1). The high catch of juveniles is characteristic of shrimp trawling. In Pernambuco, near to the study site, Silva Júnior et al. (2013)SILVA JÚNIOR, C. A. B., ARAÚJO, M. E. & FEITOSA, C. V. 2013. Sustainability of capture of fish bycatch in the prawn trawling in northeastern Brazil. Neotropical Ichthyology, 11, 133-142. observed that 64% of the individuals caught are below the size of first maturation (L50). The low selectivity of the fishing gear (Branco and Verani, 2006BRANCO, J. O., VERANI, J. R. & PAULO, S. 2006. Análise quali-quantitativa da ictiofauna acompanhante na pesca do camarão sete-barbas, na Armação do Itapocoroy, Penha, Santa Catarina. Revista Brasileira de Zoologia, 23, 381-391.) and in our case the very shallow fishing zone may contribute to high juvenile catches, due to the lower swimming capacity at this stage, when compared to the adult specimens. In this study, according to the estuarine use functional group (EUFG), 16 species were categorized as marine migrants (MM), 11 species as marine straggler (MS) and 6 estuarine (ES) (Table 1). The high percentage of juveniles may also be related to the migratory behaviour of the species living in the adjacent open sea, migrating to the coastal and estuarine waters during spawning, using these areas for shelter and feeding (Pinheiro-Sousa et al., 2015PINHEIRO-SOUSA, D. B., SILVA, N. K., PIOSKI, N. M., ROCHA, A. C. G., CARVALHO- NETA, R. N. F. & ALMEIDA, Z. S. 2015. Feeding habits and reproductive aspects of Bagre bagre (Siluriformes, Ariidae) in a coast of São Luís island, Maranhão, Brazil. Revista Brasileira de Engenharia de Pesca, 8, 1-12.), emphasizing the importance of the connectivity between the coastal and marine environment (Vasconcelos-Filho et al., 2009VASCONCELOS-FILHO, L. A. NEUMANN-LEITÃO, S., ESKINAZI-LEÇA, E., OLIVEIRA, A. M. E. & ORTO-NETO, F. F. 2009. Hábitos alimentares de consumidores primários da ictiofauna do sistema estuarino de itamaracá (Pernambuco - Brasil). Revista Brasileira de Engenharia de Pesca, 4, 21-31.).

Overall, this study increases the knowledge on coastal fish, normally captured as bycatch, providing biological information useful for further studies in ecology, conservation, and fisheries assessment and management.

Thus, given the high catch of juveniles, species marine migrant and zoobenthivores in Lucena-PB, northeast Brazil, the present study reiterates the need for new approaches which appraise the species susceptibility, for a better evaluation of fishing impacts, such as, to improve the management measures, considering non-target species as a way of guaranteeing biodiversity and ecosystem stability.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This study was supported by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), which has funded samples, analyses and provided student scholarship to Rafaela Passarone, Kátia Aparecido Cristina, Anne K. S. Justino, Leandro Nolé Eduardo, Cecília Craveiro, and Alex Souza Lira. Also, CNPq has provided a research grant for Flávia Lucena Frédou. The present study could not have been done without the work of all participants from the IFPB-Lucena and BIOIMPACT Laboratory. The author Leandro Nolé Eduardo is supported by FUNBIO and HUMANIZE under the grant "Programa Bolsas Funbio - Conservando o Futuro 2018 (011/2019)". The author Lucas Vinícius Santos Silva is supported by FACEPE - under the grant "Programa Institucional de Bolsas de Iniciação Científica".

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Edited by

Editor: June Ferraz Dias

Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    02 Dec 2019
  • Date of issue
    2019

History

  • Received
    03 Oct 2019
  • Accepted
    17 Oct 2019
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