An assessment of post-release mortality for a commonly discarded deep-sea isopod (Bathynomus giganteus) using reflex impairment

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Abstract

Estimates of post-release mortality (PRM) rates for discarded bycatch are largely unknown across marine fisheries and represent a substantial source of uncertainty when estimating total fishery mortality. One way to predict PRM is through the use of reflex action mortality predictors (RAMP), whereby the presence or absence of target reflexes and known post-release fate are used to create a delayed mortality model. We employed reflex impairment assessments in concert with post-capture caging and video monitoring to predict 5-d PRM rates for the deep-sea giant isopod Bathynomus giganteus, a common bycatch species in numerous deepwater fisheries worldwide, and also considered the factors contributing to mortality. Mortality rates 5 d post-capture ranged from 50 to 100% and both RAMP scores and time at the surface were significant predictors of mortality, although our conclusions regarding the effect of surface time are limited. In-cage video documented little movement within the 24-h monitoring period following capture, and it appeared that surviving individuals often fed within the holding period after cage deployment. Our results suggest that PRM in B. giganteus is common and that this unaccounted source of mortality should be quantified for other deep-sea crustaceans captured as bycatch.

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