Fishery discards subsidise the food supply of a large community of scavenging seabirds, thus substantially influencing seabird ecology. Seabird preference for certain types of discards determines the number and composition of discards available for non-avian marine scavengers. To quantify both portions of discards temporally as well as spatially, we have used a modelling framework that integrates the spatial and temporal variation in seabird distribution, seabird attraction to fishing vessels, and discard distribution. The framework was applied to a case study in the Bay of Biscay, where a wide variation in discard consumption was observed across seabird foraging guilds, discard types, periods, and locations. Seabirds removed about one quarter of the Bay of Biscay discards. The remaining sinking discards have limited potential to subsidize scavenging benthic communities on a large scale, but they may contribute substantially to scavenger diets on a local scale. Changes in food subsidies caused by discard mitigation measures, such as the “landing obligation” in the European Common Fisheries Policy, are likely to have ecosystem effects on both scavenging seabirds and non-avian marine scavengers.
|Journal||Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences|
|Number of pages||14|
|Publication status||Published - 29-Mar-2016|