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    Estimating the average distribution of Antarctic krill Euphausia superba at the northern Antarctic Peninsula during austral summer and winter

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    Document Number:
    WG-ASAM-2022/P02
    Author(s):
    V. Warwick-Evans, S. Fielding, C.S. Reiss, G.M. Watters and P.N. Trathan
    Submitted By:
    Dr Sophie Fielding (United Kingdom)
    Approved By:
    Dr Chris Darby (United Kingdom)
    Publication:
    Polar Biol., 45 (2022): 857–871
    Abstract

    This study was performed to aid the management of the fishery for Antarctic krill Euphausia superba. Krill are an important component of the Antarctic marine ecosystem, providing a key food source for many marine predators. Additionally, krill are the target of the largest commercial fishery in the Southern Ocean, for which annual catches have been increasing and concentrating in recent years. The krill fishery is managed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), which has endorsed a new management framework that requires information about the spatial distribution and biomass of krill. Here, we use krill density estimates from acoustic surveys and a GAMM framework to model habitat properties associated with high krill biomass during summer and winter in the northern Antarctic Peninsula region, an area important to the commercial fishery. Our models show elevated krill density associated with the shelf break, increased sea surface temperature, moderate chlorophyll-a concentration and increased salinity. During winter, our models show associations with shallow waters (<1500 m) with low sea-ice concentration, medium sea-level anomaly and medium current speed. Our models predict temporal averages of the distribution and density of krill, which can be used to aid CCAMLR’s revised ecosystem approach to fisheries management. Our models have the potential to help in the spatial and temporal design of future acoustic surveys that would preclude the need for modelled extrapolations. We highlight that the ecosystem approach to fisheries management of krill critically depends upon such feld observations at relevant spatial and temporal scales