Spatio-temporal dynamics and management implications of the nightly appearance of Boops boops (Acanthopterygii, Perciformes) juvenile shoals in the anthropogenically modified Mediterranean littoral zone

Abstract

A remarkable phenomenon of dense Boops boops shoals appearing almost adjacent to the shoreline during nighttime is known to the locals of island communities of the Aegean Sea (eastern Mediterranean). In this work, we investigated this appearance testing the hypotheses that (a) it may occur only in anthropogenically modified locations (as suggested by previous observations), (b) the migration pattern to the littoral is not arbitrary but synchronized to the sunset/sunrise, (c) fish abundance is affected by location, season and/or natural (moon) light fluctuations. Quantitative sampling included visual observations from the coast at five stations in Syros (Cyclades, Greece) from July 2009 to September 2010. Both hypotheses concerning occurrence only in anthropogenically modified locations and timing with sunset/sunrise were confirmed. Fish abundance was modelled using generalized additive models, demonstrating a seasonal pattern and revealing significant differences among sampling stations, but no moon-phase effects. The phenomenon investigated here has implications for fisheries management, as the shoal proximity to the shore renders them prone to illegal harvesting (seasonally at high abundances), aggravating the problem of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Further considerations on the integrated management of the coastal zone arise, especially concerning the effects of habitat structural modification and light pollution.

DOI: 10.1007/s10750-014-1871-z

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