Integrated risk analysis for rare marine species impacted by fishing: sustainability assessment and population trend modelling

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Abstract

Risk assessment and conservation management of rare species are challenging due to a lack of data. We developed an integrated risk assessment approach to assess human impact on population sustainability of rare species. The approach involved two components: a quantitative sustainability assessment coupled with modelling trends in relative abundance. Both components took nil catches into account through zero-inflated statistical distributions that simultaneously modelled the zero and non-zero catches separately in submodels. The sustainability assessment used detection–non-detection data for population estimation and linked sustainability to easily collected life-history traits. This component provides an assessment of population sustainability at one point in time. The trend modelling applied zero-inflated negative binomial models to temporal trends in density and dispersion of species. It provided a complement to the static sustainability assessment. We applied this integrated approach to assess the risk to 14 species of rare, protected sea snakes incidentally caught in the Australian Northern Prawn Fishery. This approach can be applicable for risk assessment of many species with limited abundance data, a large number of absences and some presence–absence information only.

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