Mark-recapture estimation of mortality and migration rates for sea trout (Salmo trutta) in the northern Baltic sea


Knowledge of current fishing mortality rates is an important prerequisite for formulating management plans for the recovery of threatened stocks. We present a method for estimating migration and fishing mortality rates for anadromous fishes that combines tag return data from commercial and recreational fisheries with expert opinion in a Bayesian framework. By integrating diverse sources of information and allowing for missing data, this approach may be particularly applicable in data-limited situations. Wild populations of anadromous sea trout (Salmo trutta) in the northern Baltic Sea have undergone severe declines, with the loss of many populations. The contribution of fisheries to this decline has not been quantified, but is thought to be significant. We apply the Bayesian mark-recapture model to two reared sea trout stocks from the Finnish Isojoki and Lestijoki Rivers. Over the study period (1987–2012), the total harvest rate was estimated to average 0.82 y^{–1} for the Isojoki River stock and 0.74 y^{–1} for the Lestijoki River stock. Recreational gillnet fishing at sea was estimated to be the most important source of fishing mortality for both stocks, particularly during the 1980s and 1990s. Our results indicate a high probability of unsustainable levels of fishing mortality for both stocks, and illustrate the importance of considering the effect of recreational fisheries on fish population dynamics.

ICES Journal of Marine Science, 74(1), pp. 286-300

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