No free lunch: Estimating the biomass and ex-vessel value of target catch lost to depredation by odontocetes in the Hawai‘i longline tuna fishery
Depredation by marine predators causes economic losses and impacts depredating species and fish stocks. To understand these impacts, it is important to accurately estimate catch losses from depredation. Pelagic longline fisheries are susceptible to depredation, and depredation is difficult to quantify, because gear is suspended in the water column away from the vessel for extended periods. In the present study, we used fisheries data and a novel modeling approach to estimate catch removal by odontocetes in the Hawai‘i deep-set longline fishery. We estimated annual biomass and economic value lost to depredation of three of the most commonly landed species as approximately 100 t and one million USD, respectively, during 2012-2018. The median cost on sets when depredation occurred was $600 USD, with the worst 10% of sets experiencing losses exceeding $2,300 USD. We also identified broad-scale spatiotemporal patterns and hotspots of depredation across the range of the fishery. Our findings quantify the ecological and economic implications of this interaction, and our methods can be applied in similar fisheries elsewhere to assess the impacts of depredation.