Diversity, abundance and depth distribution of demersal deep-water fishes off Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

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Abstract

A total of 168 bottom longline operations were carried out at depths between 72 and 1102 m during four cruises off Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, Canary Islands. One hundred and twenty-eight operations were successful, resulting in the capture of 1167 fishes belonging to 55 species. Clear variations in fish total weight and number, species richness and diversity, and the relative abundance of single species occurred among five different depth zones between 100 and 1100 m. The particular platform topography of the Canary Islands may affect the density and diversity of slope-dwelling fishes. Whereas fish body length and weight showed an overall increase with depth, no such trends were found at the level of individual species. One species, Lepidopus caudalus, even revealed a bigger-shallower trend. Among three species of trichiurids, depth distribution patterns were detected that may reflect vertical space partitioning. In October 1995, an unusually high number of Mora moro with advanced gonadal maturity were collected off eastern Fuerteventura at 997 m depth. At lesser depths and during other seasons, only a few individuals of this species were caught in the same area. This indicated a seasonal variability in local abundance that is most probably related to reproduction. Mora moro has an excellent flesh and may represent a valuable fisheries resource. Open problems requiring further research in the study area such as selectivity effects of the fishing gear and possible influences of ecological factors on geographical distribution of the deep-water ichthyofauna, as well as important aspects of the future demersal fisheries management in the Canarian archipelago are briefly outlined.

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