What makes fish vulnerable to capture by hooks? A conceptual framework and a review of key determinants
Considerable time and money are expended in the pursuit of catching fish with hooks (e.g., handlining, angling, longlining, trolling, drumlining) across the recreational, commercial and subsistence fishing sectors. The fish and other aquatic organisms (e.g., squid) that are captured are not a random sample of the population because external (e.g., turbidity) and underlying internal variables (e.g., morphology) contribute to variation in vulnerability to hooks. Vulnerability is the probability of capture for any given fish in a given location at a given time and mechanistically explains the population-level catchability coefficient, which is a fundamental and usually time-varying (i.e., dynamic) variable in fisheries science and stock assessment. The mechanistic drivers of individual vulnerability to capture are thus of interest to fishers by affecting catch rates, but are also of considerable importance to fisheries managers whenever hook-and-line-generated data contribute to stock assessments. In this paper, individual vulnerability to hooks is conceptualized as a dynamic state, in which individual fish switch between vulnerable and invulnerable states as a function of three interdependent key processes: an individual fish's internal state, its encounter with the gear, and the characteristics of the encountered gear. We develop a new conceptual framework of “vulnerability,” summarize the major drivers of fish vulnerability, and conclude that fish vulnerability involves complex processes. To understand vulnerability, a shift to interdisciplinary research and the integration of ecophysiology, fish ecology, fisheries ecology and human movement ecology, facilitated by new technological developments, is required.