Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 7479
Title: Competing conservation objectives for predators and prey: estimating killer whale prey requirements for Chinook salmon
Author: R. Williams, Martin Krosek, Erin Ashe, T. A. Branch, S. Clark, P. S. Hammond, E. Hoyt, D. P. Noren, D. Rosen, A. Winship
Publication Year: 2011
Journal: PLoS ONE
Volume: 6
Issue: 11
Pages: e26738
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026738
Keywords: killer whale,salmon,energetics,prey requirements,
Abstract: Ecosystem-based management (EBM) of marine resources attempts to conserve interacting species. In contrast to single-species fisheries management, EBM aims to identify and resolve conflicting objectives for different species. Such a conflict may be emerging in the northeastern Pacific for southern resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) and their primary prey, Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Both species have at-risk conservation status and transboundary (CanadaUS) ranges. We modeled individual killer whale prey requirements from feeding and growth records of captive killer whales and morphometric data from historic live-capture fishery and whaling records worldwide. The models, combined with caloric value of salmon, and demographic and diet data for wild killer whales, allow us to predict salmon quantities needed to maintain and recover this killer whale population, which numbered 87 individuals in 2009. Our analyses provide new information on cost of lactation and new parameter estimates for other killer whale populations globally. Prey requirements of southern resident killer whales are difficult to reconcile with fisheries and conservation objectives for Chinook salmon, because the number of fish required is large relative to annual returns and fishery catches. For instance, a U.S. recovery goal (2.3% annual population growth of killer whales over 28 years) implies a 75%increase in energetic requirements. Reducing salmon fisheries may serve as a temporary mitigation measure to allow time for management actions to improve salmon productivity to take effect. As ecosystem-based fishery management becomes more prevalent, trade-offs between conservation objectives for predators and prey will become increasingly necessary. Our approach offers scenarios to compare relative influence of various sources of uncertainty on the resulting consumption estimates to prioritise future research efforts, and a general approach for assessing the extent of conflict between conservation objectives for threatened or protected wildlife where the interaction between affected species can be quantified.
Theme: Ecosystem approach to improve management of marine resources
Foci: Provide scientific support for the implementation of ecosystem-based management
Characterize ecological interactions (e.g. predation, competition, parasitism, disease, etc.) within and among species.