An assessment of the long-term changes in chondrichthyan abundance on the inshore trawl grounds of the Agulhas Bank, South Africa

 

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dc.contributor.advisor Attwood, Colin en_ZA
dc.contributor.author Mussgnug,Robert Sebastian en_ZA
dc.date.accessioned 2015-09-15T10:32:56Z
dc.date.available 2015-09-15T10:32:56Z
dc.date.issued 2013 en_ZA
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/11427/14017
dc.description.abstract Trawl fisheries have been operating in South African waters for roughly 110 years. In contrast to other trawl fisheries, the South African fishery was opened by government-funded scientific trawl surveys beginning in 1898. Detailed records of survey trawls undertaken immediately prior to and during the beginning of commercial trawling activity provided a rare opportunity to examine longterm changes in fish abundance. This dissertation focuses on the chondrichthyans, which are believed to be the group of fishes most at risk from intense exploitation. Despite some problems associated with changes in taxonomy and the efficiency of gear, this analysis was able to compare two distinct periods at three taxonomic levels: The periods were taken to represent baseline values prior to the opening of trawl fisheries and contemporary data, separated by roughly 80 years of intense, trawling activity. Three historically important trawl grounds were identified as having sufficient samples from each period. Between the surveys, trawl velocity did not deviate much from contemporary trawl velocities, although all surveys were found to have a significantly different velocity. In respect to the catch composition, significant changes were found in the relative abundance of the total catch composition, as a general shift from large, long-lived species towards smaller species was found. This applied both for teleosts as well as chondrichthyans, with the entire chondrichthyan catch composition showing a decrease, with the exception of Callorhinchus capensis, which increased significantly. Changes in chondrichthyan swept-area density were found to follow those trends found in the relative abundance: An increase was found in Callorhinchus capensis, whereas all other species decreased. All chondrichthyans were classed in low productivity categories and were assigned a high risk factor to overfishing. Reasons for the declines in the chondrichthyan assemblage were low fecundity, slow maturation and the inability due to these factors to adapt to an environment altered by trawling. Only in the case of Callorhinchus capensis were secondary effects of trawling such as the removal of competitor species likely to have caused the increase in relative abundance and swept area density as well as Callorhinchus capensis having a relatively high fecundity among chondrichthyans. In general, chondrichthyan decreases exceeded those of teleosts, and this work provides broad empirical support for the hypothesis that the low fecundity and slow growth of chondrichthyan species places this group at higher risk than teleosts. en_ZA
dc.language.iso eng en_ZA
dc.subject.other Biological Sciences en_ZA
dc.title An assessment of the long-term changes in chondrichthyan abundance on the inshore trawl grounds of the Agulhas Bank, South Africa en_ZA
dc.type Thesis / Dissertation en_ZA
uct.type.publication Research en_ZA
uct.type.resource Thesis en_ZA
dc.publisher.institution University of Cape Town
dc.publisher.faculty Faculty of Science en_ZA
dc.publisher.department Department of Biological Sciences en_ZA
dc.type.qualificationlevel Masters en_ZA
dc.type.qualificationname MSc en_ZA
uct.type.filetype Text
uct.type.filetype Image


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