Spatial characterization of the fisheries in the Avilés Canyon System (Cantabrian Sea, Spain)

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Antonio Punzón
Juan Carlos Arronte
Francisco Sánchez
Ana García-Alegre


Marine protected areas are one of the main tools in ecosystem-based fishery management. This approach requires analyzing the role of fisheries in the ecosystem by, for example, identifying fishing tactics and analyzing the spatial distribution with sufficient precision to allow us to determine whether fishing activities and the habitat or ecosystem to be protected can coexist spatially. In the Avilés Canyon System (Cantabrian Sea, Spain), we detected 6 different gears and 17 fishing tactics were identified by a non-hierarchical classification technique (CLARA). The spatial distribution of demersal fishing activity is strongly affected by the topography of the study area and the large presence of rocky ground. There is a clear spatial segregation between gear types, mainly due to the operating requirements of the gears and the distribution of target species. This minimizes conflicts between different components of the fleet. The fishing tactics targeting pelagic species were mainly located on the coast and shelf, while those targeting demersal species were used on the shelf and slope. Longline fishing tactics are those that had a more restricted spatial distribution. 

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