Consumption of juvenile herring (Clupea harengus) by cod (Gadus morhua) in the Barents Sea: a new approach to estimating consumption in piscivorous fish
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Consumption of different age groups of juvenile, Norwegian, spring-spawning herring (Clupea harengus) by northeast Arctic cod (Gadus morhua) in the Barents Sea in 1992–1997 is estimated using cod stomach content data. We present a new approach to the problem of estimating consumption by fish. The new method is based on the estimation of digestion time for single prey items based on the difference between fresh weight at ingestion and weight in the stomach at time of sampling. Estimation is based on a gastric evacuation model for cod and area-specific sea temperatures. This is used to estimate the time (tmax) it takes for a prey to become digested to a stage where length is no longer measurable. Predation rate is then estimated for all prey with digestion time ≤tmax as number of prey eaten in the time range defined by tmax. This rate is combined with estimates of the proportion of the cod stock consuming the prey and area-specific abundance of cod, giving consumption of herring on a seasonal and yearly basis. The consumption estimates differ from those obtained using current methods. Predation mortality of herring is estimated directly from the consumption estimates by combining them with acoustic herring abundance data.