The effective management and conservation of fishery resources requires knowledge of their spatial distribution and notably of their critical life history stages. Predictive modelling of the European hake (Merluccius merluccius L., 1758) distribution was developed in the south-central Mediterranean Sea by means of historical fisheries-independent databases available in the region. The study area included the international waters of the south-central Mediterranean Sea and the territorial waters of Italy, Malta, Tunisia and Libya. Distribution maps of predicted population abundance index, and probabilistic occurrence of recruits and large adults were obtained by means of generalized additive models using depth and seafloor characteristics as predictors. Presence/absence data of the two life stages was obtained using threshold values applied to the mean weight of the survey catches. Modelling results largely matched previously reported knowledge on habitat preference of the species and its critical life phases. Hake recruits showed an occurrence peak at 200 m depth with preference for soft bottoms. Large adults preferred deeper and harder bottom substrates. Prediction maps allowed to improve our knowledge on the distributional patterns of one of the most important shared stocks in the south-central Mediterranean. This knowledge is essential for an appropriate development of regional-spatial-based management plans.
|Numero di pagine||20|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2018|