Demographic diversity and sustainable fisheries.
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Fish species are diverse. For example, some exhibit early maturation while others delay maturation, some adopt semelparous reproductive strategies while others are iteroparous, and some are long-lived and others short-lived. The diversity is likely to have profound effects on fish population dynamics, which in turn has implications for fisheries management. In this study, a simple density-dependent stage-structured population model was used to investigate the effect of life history traits on sustainable yield, population resilience, and the coefficient of variation (CV) of the adult abundance. The study showed that semelparous fish can produce very high sustainable yields, near or above 50% of the carrying capacity, whereas long-lived iteroparous fish can produce very low sustainable yields, which are often much less than 10% of the carrying capacity. The difference is not because of different levels of sustainable fishing mortality rate, but because of difference in the sensitivity of the equilibrium abundance to fishing mortality. On the other hand, the resilience of fish stocks increases from delayed maturation to early maturation strategies but remains almost unchanged from semelparous to long-lived iteroparous. The CV of the adult abundance increases with increased fishing mortality, not because more individuals are recruited into the adult stage (as previous speculated), but because the mean abundance is more sensitive to fishing mortality than its standard deviation. The magnitudes of these effects vary depending on the life history strategies of the fish species involved. It is evident that any past high yield of long-lived iteroparous fish is a transient yield level, and future commercial fisheries should focus more on fish that are short-lived (including semelparous species) with high compensatory capacity.