• Open Access

Selection due to nonretention mortality in gillnet fisheries for salmon


M. R. Baker, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Box 355020, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.
Tel.: +1 206 794 7515; fax: +1 206 685 7471; e-mail: mattbakr@uw.edu


Fisheries often exert selective pressures through elevated mortality on a nonrandom component of exploited stocks. Selective removal of individuals will alter the composition of a given population, with potential consequences for its size structure, stability and evolution. Gillnets are known to harvest fish according to size. It is not known, however, whether delayed mortality due to disentanglement from gillnets exerts selective pressures that reinforce or counteract harvest selection. We examined gillnet disentanglement in exploited populations of sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) in Bristol Bay, Alaska, to characterize the length distribution of fish that disentangle from gillnets and determine whether nonretention mortality reinforces harvest selection and exerts common pressures according to sex and age. We also evaluated discrete spawning populations to determine whether nonretention affects populations with different morphologies in distinct ways. In aggregate, nonretention mortality in fish that disentangle from gillnets counters harvest selection but with different effects by sex and age. At the level of individual spawning populations, nonretention mortality may exert stabilizing, disruptive, or directional selection depending on the size distribution of a given population. Our analyses suggest nonretention mortality exerts significant selective pressures and should be explicitly included in analyses of fishery-induced selection.