Shelf break exchange processes influence the availability of the northern shortfin squid, Illex illecebrosus, in the Northwest Atlantic

Publication date
April 14, 2023
Sarah L. Salois, Kimberly J. W. Hyde, Adrienne Silver, Brooke A. Lowman, Avijit Gangopadhyay, Glen Gawarkiewicz, Anna J. M. Mercer, John P. Manderson, Sarah K. Gaichas, Daniel J. Hocking, Benjamin Galuardi, Andrew W. Jones, Jeff Kaelin, Greg DiDomenico, Katie Almeida, Bill Bright, Meghan Lapp

The United States Northern Shortfin squid fishery is known for its large fluctuations in catch at annual scales. In the last 5 years, this fishery has experienced increased availability of Illex illecebrosus along the Northeast US continental shelf (NES), resulting in high catch per unit effort (CPUE) and early fishery closures due to quota exceedance. The fishery occurs within the Northwest Atlantic, whose complex dynamics are set up by the interplay between the large-scale Gulf Stream, mesoscale eddies, Shelfbreak Jet, and shelf-slope exchange processes. Our ability to understand and quantify this regional variability is requisite for understanding the availability patterns of Illex, which are largely influenced by oceanographic conditions. In an effort to advance our current understanding of the seasonal and interannual variability in this species' relative abundance on the NES, we used generalized additive models to examine the relationships between the physical environment and hotspots of productivity to changes in CPUE of I. illecebrosus in the Southern stock component, which comprises the US fishery. Specifically, we derived oceanographic indicators by pairing high-resolution remote sensing data and global ocean reanalysis physical data to high-resolution fishery catch data. We identified a suite of environmental covariates that were strongly related to instances of higher catch rates. In particular, bottom temperature, warm core rings, subsurface features, and frontal dynamics together serve as indicators of habitat condition and primary productivity hotspots, providing great utility for understanding the distribution of Illex with the potential for forecasting seasonal and interannual availability.

Fisheries Oceanography