Using multi-species habitat models for the design of oceanic fisheries closures

Mr Guillermo Ortuño Crespo1

1Duke University, Durham, United States

The spatial expansion of marine fisheries into ever more remote High Seas waters entailed novel impacts on oceanic species, which extend beyond the target taxonomic groups. While the importance of the High Seas for the global seafood industry has continued to grow, the regulatory frameworks and monitoring mechanisms necessary to support their sustainable use have lagged. Different forms of fisheries management, including spatiotemporal closures, have shown to be effective at abating negative ecological impacts such as bycatch mortality. In this study we explore the design of dynamic oceanic fisheries closures through the spatial modeling of target and non-target pelagic predators in the High Seas portions of the North Pacific Ocean.

We partnered with the NOAA Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center to analyze the Hawai’i pelagic longline fishery observer data in the region. We used catch per unit effort estimates for 23 pelagic fish species, in combination with a series of static and dynamic oceanographic predictors, to model their monthly spatiotemporal distribution in the North Pacific.

The resulting habitat suitability estimates will be used in conjunction with fleet distribution estimates derived from automatic identification system data to quantify the distribution and intensity of potential overlaps between international pelagic longline fleets and target and non-target predators in the Pacific high seas. As we grapple with rapidly changing oceans and ocean uses, advancements in predictive modeling, aided by new technologies, will help us move away from reliance on retrospective tactics in area-based management and towards more dynamic approaches capable of delivering ecosystem-based


A Ph.D. candidate at Duke’s Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab and a Fellow with the UBC-Nippon Foundation Nereus Program, he seeks to better understand the spatiotemporal patterns of distribution of highly mobile species through the use of different spatial modelling approaches. With an interest in commercially exploited pelagic species and the bycatch of non-target species, he is investigating both ecological modelling and management perspectives, bridging the knowledge gap between the distribution of migratory species and and their management in open-ocean environments.

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