Investigation into the declining trend in Chokka squid Loligo vulgaris reynaudii catches made by South African trawlers
AbstractThe trawl fishery, which targets Cape hake Merluccius spp. and Agulhas sole Austroglossus pectoralis, takes chokka squid Loligo vulgaris reynaudii as by-catch. Catch and effort data from the trawl fishery for the period
1978–1996 are used to obtain annual estimates of catch rate (catch per unit effort cpue) for that period. Examination of the cpue trend shows a sharp decline in the early 1980s and, in order to identify factors that
could have influenced that decline, the distribution of fishing effort is investigated both temporally and spatially. There is a possible change in the incidence of squid-directed catches over time, but their overall scarcity could have had only a small impact on the annual cpue trend. Further, using distribution of fishing effort to evaluate the effects of possible changes in fishing patterns, rather than changes in resource abundance, on the trend in trawl cpue, it became clear that there had been a contraction of the trawling grounds and changes in fishing patterns
in relation to depth over time. Finally, a general linear model (GLM) is developed to quantify the effect on cpue of factors such as vessel characteristic, depth and position of the drag, season and target species, so obtaining a standardized trawl cpue index of chokka abundance. Analysis of that trend reveals a mean 7.7% annual decline for the period investigated, which should be interpreted as a strong sign of resource decline.