Picking a way forward: valuing and managing traditional shellfish gathering for Littorina littorea
Johnson, Mark P.
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Johnson, Mark P., & Mcdermott, Tommy. (2018). Picking a way forward: valuing and managing traditional shellfish gathering for Littorina littorea. Aquat. Living Resour., 31, 35. doi: 10.1051/alr/2018024
Littorina littorea (periwinkles) have been harvested by hand picking from the shore since prehistoric times. Harvests are generally unregulated, catches are not linked to particular shores and fisheries statistics are considered to be unreliable. The absence of key data has made it difficult to develop harvesting recommendations. Surveys around Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland were used to investigate the size structure and relationships among densities in different size classes. Three size classes were identified in surveyed L. littorea, with mean shell lengths of 0.81, 1.56 and 2.48 cm. Assuming that the age classes represent year classes, data across different shores suggested that the ratio between densities in successive year classes was not constant. Proportionally fewer individuals were found in the larger, older, size class as the density of the smaller size class on a shore increased. This density-dependent relationship was modelled with a Ricker curve for the year 1 to year 2 and the year 2 to year 3 transitions. The predicted transition rates from Ricker curves were used in a size-structured model to describe L. littorea dynamics. An emergent property of the size-structured model is a decline in mean shell length with overall density of a population. This prediction was supported by the survey data from Strangford Lough and by an independent survey of Irish shores. The size-structured model predicts potential harvests of individuals above 2.06 cm as a function of recruitment rate. Maximum harvest was predicted for a density of 5 year 1 individuals m(-2), leading to 13.8 year 3 individuals m(-2) or an estimated annual harvest weight of 67 g m(-2). Modelled estimates of production provide a means to value shores and develop harvest predictions for management purposes.
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