Jennifer McGowan (1), Alienor Chauvenet (2), Hugh Possingham (3)
1 Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, 4072, @j_a_mcgowan
2 Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, 4072, @AChauvenet
3 Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, 4072, @hugepossum
Spatial planning strategies for conserving mobile marine species primarily focus on the protection of nesting or breeding sites and predictable coastal foraging habitats. Yet, conservation of these areas alone does not protect the migratory life stages, where many threatened mobile species continue to face population declines and mortality at sea. Although some protection of pelagic and key foraging habitats occurs incidentally, most pelagic pathways where species experience incidental mortality from artisanal fishing, commercial bycatch or targeted consumption remain exposed. We address this conservation deficiency by developing novel, quantative methods to incorporate telemetry and tracking data into conservation planning approaches. Our case studies illustrate how conservation planners can translate spatiotemporal variability in individuals movements into quantitative spatial planning objectives for highly mobile marine species. We investigate optimal spatial management strategies for pelagic protected areas (static/seasonal closures and gear modification zones) that minimize the probability of mobile species bycatch occuring across all taxa. Combining individual movement data with at sea threats from artisanal and commercial fishing, we identify areas and conservation actions that reduce the likelihoods of mortality from anthropogenic pressures.