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Temporal Changes in a Tropical Nekton Assemblage and Performance of a Prawn Selective Gear

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  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Fisheries
  • Biology
  • Design
  • Earth Science
  • Ecology
  • Economics
  • Geography


The temporal variation of components of a moderately diverse (H=1.46) tropical estuarine fish assemblage (long. 146°30'E, lat. 8°45'S) was directed by salinities that had been determined by local oceanographic and probably topographic conditions. For this assemblage, two types of intrayear component profiles are predicted. Pooled data (1988-91) reveal a large component of regular/resident species (43%) in an assemblage which has been under a narrow temperature regime «5T). These results facilitate a discussion on the relevance and usefulness of three hypotheses often cited in studies concerning species diversity and component characteristics of the subtropical/tropical coastal nonreef fish assemblages. Manifestations of the assemblage are reflected in catch composition and weights of 39 trials conducted for a selective prawning gear whose performance in bycatch reduction, mainly for finfishes, is judged by an index, E, we have previously proposed. This gear is capable of harvesting the prawn while conserving the demersal fish. Behavioral responses to netting of the prawns and the finfishes, especially the nearshore surface schoolers such as leiognathids, are discussed from several points of view. An adaptation in terms of group selection for leiognathids of their locking mechanism of median fin spines has been interpreted. For the purpose of bycatch reduction or E enhancement, suggestions for improvements in net design and trawl configuration by considering the behavioral features of fish are made. Our original formula of E is modified for general use. Bycatch problems in the regional prawn fisheries and their possible impacts on fishery planning and development in Papua New Guinea as a developing country are discussed. The gear tested may offer enormous ecological and economic benefits. The gear is multipurpose, extremely simple, and can also be used as a biological sampler.

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