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Autor(es):P. Arechavala-Lopez, D. Izquierdo-Gomez, A. Forcada, D. Fernandez-Jover, K. Toledo-Guedes, C. Valle, P. Sanchez-Jerez
Título:Recapturing fish escapes from coastal farms in the western Mediterranean Sea: Insights for potential contingency plans
Escape incidents of farmed fish involve economic losses to fish farms, interactions with local fisheries and environmental
impacts to coastal ecosystems. More attention should clearly be paid to preventive measures. It is
also essential to develop and establish contingency plans in case of escapes, to mitigate potentially negative
socioeconomic and environmental impacts. Three mark-and-recapture experiments simulating escape incidents
of sea bass (N = 1000 ind.), sea bream (N = 1000 ind.) and meagre (N = 1000 ind.) were carried out at three
coastal fish farms located along the Mediterranean Coast of Spain. First, targeted experimental fishing trials in
collaboration with artisanal netters were attempted at each location as potential fast-response contingency plans
for recapturing escapees. Targeted fishing was successful on meagre (N = 38 ind., CPUE: 2.2 ind 10 m−2 h−1)
and sea bream (N=8 ind., CPUE: 1.3 ind 10 m−2 h−1), while no sea bass were recaptured. Secondly, recaptures
reported from local fishermen (professional and recreational) during the study period were also considered.
Altogether, total recapture rates were similar among the three species (sea bass: 5.4%; sea bream: 7.1%; meagre:
8.7%), although the spatial and temporal observations of recaptures varied among species. Recreational fishermen
were the only contributors, recapturing 54 tagged sea bass (angling: 85%; spear-fishing: 15%) in mainly
shallow coastal waters and about three km distance from the fish-farm during the weeks after release. A total of
71 escaped sea bream were recaptured by both recreational and artisanal fishermen, contributing similarly
(recapture rates: 47.9% and 40.8% of total, respectively). Most sea bream recaptures were during the first nine
days after release (86% of total recaptures), mainly near the farm facilities (< 3 km). The bulk of meagre
recaptures were during the first two days after release (> 95%), mainly by experimental and artisanal netting
(38 and 47 individuals respectively) again near the facility. In parallel, an underwater visual census was carried
out at coastal locations and Natura 2000 sites in each study area, to assess the presence of escapees in marine
habitats of special interest. Neither escaped sea bass nor escaped meagre were observed during underwater
surveys, and only three tagged sea bream were found together at artificial reefs. Given that recaptures of tagged
fish differed among fish species and fishing techniques following simulated escape incidents at W-Mediterranean
coastal facilities, diverse potential contingency plans are here discussed.

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