The foraging ecology of greyheaded mollymawks at Marion Island: in relation to known longline fishing activity

Nel, D.C., Nel, J.L., Ryan, P.G., Klages, N.T.W., Wilson, Rory P. and Robertson, G. (2000) The foraging ecology of greyheaded mollymawks at Marion Island: in relation to known longline fishing activity Biological Conservation, 96 (2). pp. 219-231. DOI 10.1016/S0006-3207(00)00072-0.

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Incidental mortality due to longline fishing has been implicated as the main cause for the global population decline in grey-headed mollymawks (Thalassarche chrysostoma). Two of these fisheries, within the potential foraging range of grey-headed mollymawks breeding on Marion Island, have increased drastically over the past 5–10 years. In order to understand the impacts of these fisheries on the grey-headed mollymawk population breeding on Marion Island, we studied their foraging ecology by tracking their foraging trips and sampling their diets. During the incubation stage, birds made long foraging trips, mostly towards the subtropical convergence and sub-Antarctic zones, bringing them into contact with areas of intense southern blue-fin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) longline fishing. Females spent a higher proportion of their time within these areas than males, thus exposing themselves to a higher risk of incidental mortality from this fishery. During the early chick-rearing stage, foraging trips were shorter and to the southwest of the island in the Polar frontal and Antarctic zones, thus avoiding any contact with the southern blue-fin tuna industry. However, short foraging trips (<2 days) were made within the boundary of known Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) longline sets around Marion Island. Males made a higher proportion of short foraging trips and spent more time within the boundaries of the toothfish fishery than females. These differences may account for the male-biased mortality of grey-headed mollymawks observed in the toothfish fishery around Marion Island. Although a decrease in the annual breeding population has not been detected on Marion Island as yet, we warn that the methods used to detect these changes are inaccurate in measuring short term population changes (<10 years) and that the impacts of these fisheries may already have altered the demographic structure of this population.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Grey-headed mollymawks; Foraging ecology; Tracking; Longline fishing; Incidental mortality
Research affiliation: OceanRep > Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1016/S0006-3207(00)00072-0
ISSN: 0006-3207
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2008 17:24
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2017 14:55

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