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Nineteenth century narratives reveal historic catch rates for Australian snapper (Pagrus auratus)

journal contribution
posted on 2016-03-01, 00:00 authored by Ruth Thurstan, A B Campbell, J M Pandolfi
Snapper (Pagrus auratus) is widely distributed throughout subtropical and temperate southern oceans and forms a significant recreational and commercial fishery in Queensland, Australia. Using data from government reports, media sources, popular publications and a government fisheries survey carried out in 1910, we compiled information on individual snapper fishing trips that took place prior to
the commencement of fisherywide organized data collection, from 1871 to 1939. In addition to extracting all available quantitative data, we translated qualitative information into bounded estimates and used multiple imputation to handle missing values, forming 287 records for which catch rate (snapper fisher ¯¹ h ¯¹) could be derived. Uncertainty was handled through a parametric maximum likelihood framework (a transformed trivariate Gaussian), which facilitated statistical compari-
sons between data sources. No statistically significant differences in catch rates were found among media sources and the government fisheries survey. Catch rates remained stable throughout the time series, averaging 3.75 snapper fisher ¯¹ h ¯¹ (95% confidence interval, 3.42–4.09) as the fishery expanded into new grounds. In comparison, a contemporary (1993–2002) south-east Queensland charter fishery
produced an average catch rate of 0.4 snapper fisher ¯¹ h ¯¹ (95% confidence interval, 0.31–0.58). These data illustrate the productivity of a fishery during its earliest years of development and represent the earliest catch rate data globally for this species. By adopting a formalized approach to address issues common to many historical records –
missing data, a lack of quantitative information and reporting bias –
our analysis demonstrates the potential for historical narratives to contribute to contemporary fisheries management.

History

Journal

Fish and fisheries

Volume

17

Issue

1

Pagination

210 - 225

Publisher

Wiley-Blackwell

Location

Chichester, Eng.

ISSN

1467-2960

eISSN

1467-2979

Language

eng

Publication classification

C Journal article; C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2014, Wiley