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Ceyhan T., Tserpes G., Akyol O., Peristeraki P. 2018. The effect of the lunar phase on the catch per unit effort (CPUE) of the Turkish swordfish longline fishery in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Acta Ichthyol. Piscat. 48 (3): 213–219.

Background. The swordfish, Xiphias gladius Linnaeus, 1758, is a pelagic and highly migratory species distributed in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans as well as in the Mediterranean Sea. Swordfish fishing has been carried out in the Mediterranean with longlines, gillnets, harpoons, and traps since the Roman times. Although information is available on the influence of the lunar phase on the catch per unit effort (CPUE) for the swordfish longline fishery in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the data concerning the Mediterranean is rather limited. The aim of this study was to examine the relation between the lunar phase and the swordfish CPUE, based on data from Turkish longline fisheries, targeting swordfish in the eastern Mediterranean during the 2008–2016 fishing seasons.

Materials and methods. We monitored randomly the daily fishing activity of longliners based at the ports of Fethiye and Özdere during 2008–2016. A total of 86 surveying operations were carried out, including 79 in the area between Fethiye and Alanya, the remaining ones were in Özdere in the southern Aegean coasts along the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The effect of the lunar phase on the swordfish catch rates, expressed in terms of kg · 1000 hooks–1, was examined by means of the Generalized Additive Modelling (GAMs) techniques.

Results. The observed CPUE rates ranged from 0 to 700 kg · 1000 hooks–1. The mean swordfish CPUEs in the dark and light periods of the lunar cycle were equal to 178.10 ± 19.01 and 175.27 ± 19.56 kg · 1000 hooks–1, respectively. Although no significant differences among phases of the Moon were found (P > 0.05), CPUEs differed significantly between years (P < 0.05).

Conclusion. It seems that the mechanism linking swordfish CPUE variations with the lunar cycle involves several factors, making difficult the identification of direct relations.  Further studies are needed to better clarify the impact of the lunar phase on the longline gear, considering also additional parameters, such as light transition, prey abundance, physico-chemical characteristics of the marine environment, and the soak time of the gear.

Keywords: swordfish, Xiphias gladius, lunar effect, lunar phase, phase of the Moon, catch rates, Aegean Sea, Mediterranean



DOI: 10.3750/AIEP/02431

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