Conservation concerns and new management policies such as the implementation of ecosystem-based approaches to fisheries management are motivating an increasing need for estimates of mortality associated with commercial fishery discards and released fish from recreational fisheries. Traditional containment studies and emerging techniques using electronic tags on fish released to the wild are producing longitudinal mortality-time data from which discard or release mortalities can be estimated, but where there may also be a need to account analytically for other sources of mortality. In this study, we present theoretical and empirical arguments for a parametric mixture-distribution model for discard mortality data. We show, analytically and using case studies for Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), American plaice (Hippoglossoides platessoides), and winter skate (Leucoraja ocellata), how this model can easily be generalized to incorporate different characteristics of discard mortality data such as distinct capture, post-release and natural mortalities, and delayed mortality onset. In simulations over a range of conditions, the model provided reliable parameter estimates for cases involving both discard and natural mortality. These results support this modelling approach, indicating that it is well suited for data from studies in which fish are released to their natural environment. The model was found to be less reliable in simulations when there was a delay in discard mortality onset, though such an effect appears only in a minority of existing discard mortality studies. Overall, the model provides a flexible framework in which to analyse discard mortality data and to produce reliable scientific advice on discard mortality rates and possibilities for mitigation.
- discard mortality
- natural mortality
- parametric survival analysis
- post-release mortality simulation study
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science