- Long-term demographic studies show that seabird populations may suffer from competition with fisheries. Understanding this process is critical for the implementation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAF). Existing studies rely mostly on indirect clues: overlaps between seabird foraging and fishing areas, comparing fish catches by seabirds and vessels.
- The study is based on a GPS tracking experiment performed in 2007 on one of the main guano-producing seabird species, the Peruvian booby, breeding on an island near the major port for anchovy landings in Peru. The fishery, which is entirely monitored by a Vessel Monitoring System, opened the day we began the tracking experiment, providing a unique opportunity to examine the day-to-day effects of an intense fishing activity on seabird foraging behaviour.
- We observed a significant increase in the range of the daily trips and distances of the dives by birds from the colony. This increase was significantly related to the concomitant fishing activity. Seabirds progressively became more segregated in space from the vessels. Their increased foraging effort was significantly related to the growing quantity of anchovy removals by the fishery. In addition, daily removals by the fishery were at least 100 times greater than the daily anchovy requirement of the seabird colonies. We conclude that seabirds needed to forage farther to cope with the regional prey depletion created by the intensive fishing behaviour of this open access fishery.
- Synthesis and applications. We show that the foraging efficiency of breeding seabirds may be significantly affected by not only the global quantity, but also the temporal and spatial patterns of fishery removals. Together with an ecosystem-based definition of the fishery quota, an EAF should limit the risk of local depletion around breeding colonies using, for instance, adaptive marine protected areas.