National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2024

Environmental conditions on the Pacific halibut fishing grounds obtained from a decade of coastwide oceanographic monitoring, and the potential application of these data in stock analyses

Sadorus, L.L., R.A. Webster, and M.E. Sullivan

Mar. Freshwater Res., 75, MF23175, doi: 10.1071/MF23175, View open access article at CSIRO Publishing (external link) (2024)

Context. Establishing baseline environmental characteristics of demersal fish habitat is essential to understanding future distribution changes and to identifying shorter-term anomalies that may affect fish density during monitoring efforts.

Aims Our aim was to synthesise environmental data to provide near-bottom oceanographic baseline information on the Pacific halibut fishing grounds, to establish geographic groupings that may be used as co-variates in fish-density modelling and to identify temporal trends in the data.

Methods Water-column profiler data were collected from 2009 to 2018 along the North American continental shelf, during summer fishery surveys focused on Pacific halibut.

Key results In addition to establishing baseline information on the fishing grounds, this analysis illustrated that environmental variables can be grouped geographically into four regions that correspond to the four biological regions established by the International Pacific Halibut Commission. A spatio-temporal modelling approach is presented as an example of how to describe the relationship between environmental data and Pacific halibut distribution.

Conclusions This study has highlighted the efficacy of environmental data in analysing fish distribution and density changes.

Implications Oceanographic monitoring provides the ability to detect annual anomalies such as seasonal hypoxic zones that may affect fish density and to establish baseline information for future research.

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