The stomach contents of Patagonian toothfish around South Georgia (South Atlantic)

The proportion of Patagonian toothfish Dissostichus eleginoides, caught around South Georgia in the south-west Atlantic, with empty stomachs was much lower in fish caught in pots compared to longlines (28 and 91%, respectively, of examined individuals). It is hypothesized that pots caused reduced levels of stress on capture. Stomach content data examined from pot-caught fish will probably therefore be more comprehensive than that from fish caught using longlines. A wide range of prey items was identified in the stomachs of D. eleginoides and stomach contents of individuals caught using the two fishing methods were significantly different. The most common prey item for D. eleginoides caught using pots was the decapod prawn Nauticaris sp., which was restricted in location and depth. However, prawns were not common in the stomachs of D. eleginoides caught from the same location using longlines. Stomach contents from the two fishing methods remained significantly different when Nauticaris sp. were eliminated from the assessment, although fishes then dominated the diet of D. eleginoides caught using either fishing gear. The study confirms that D. eleginoides is an opportunistic carnivore, and indicates that feeding habits depend on the local availability of food items, as well as factors such as depth and predator size. The potential ecological impacts of fishing for D. eleginoides on the South Atlantic ecosystem are discussed.


Publication status:
Authors: Pilling, G.M., Purves, M.G., Daw, T.M., Agnew, D.A., Xavier, J.C.

1 January, 2001
Journal of Fish Biology / 59
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