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The Role of Benthic Habitat, Oceanography, and Fishing On the Population Dynamics of the Spiny Lobster, Panulirus Marginatus (Decapoda, Palinuridae), in the Hawaiian Archipelago

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Temporal and spatial variation in relative abundance and production of spiny lobster Panulirus marginatus in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands has been documented from commercial catch-and-effort and research trapping data. Data on benthic habitat collected from scuba transects and data on oceanography, and the pelagic distribution of larval lobsters are used to explain adult lobster temporal and spatial variation. We find the amount of 5-30 cm vertical relief and the height of bank summits explain considerable spatial variation in lobster abundance. Considerable interannual variation in lobster production at the northwestern portion of the fishing grounds is explained by the sea level gradient along the archipelago which appears to measure the strength of the Subtropical Counter Current. Evidence of a 50% drop in recruitment to the fishery has been observed since 1989. Recruitment overfishing and a decadal climate event may be responsible for this recruitment decline.

Affiliations: 1: Honolulu Laboratory, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, 2570 Dole Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822-2396, U.S.A.

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