Silver pomfret (Pampus Argenteus, Euphrasen, 1788) spatial variation in Kuwait and implications for establing marine protected areas, a GIS based approach
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Despite the establishment of a fish ban, the silver pomfret (Pampus argenteus) biomass in the Northern Persian Gulf is declining due to overfishing, and other environmental stressors. To address this problem, the distribution of silver pomfret in Kuwait waters and its habitat preference was analyzed in a Geographical Information System (GIS), as a basis to design a marine protected area (MPA). The data analyzed comprised catch, maturity stage, temperature, salinity and bottom type, obtained through a series of trawling surveys from 2004 to 2005. Bottom type, temperature and salinity preferences were determined using statistical and spatial analytical methods, including chi square comparisons and fuzzy overlay. Spatial distribution of the specie according to maturity stages was identified through Hot Spot Analysis (HSA). Silver pomfret prefers muddy bottom habitats, temperatures ranging from 15-22°C and moderate salinity 34 – 40ppt. Mature and juvenile hotspots are located northeast of Boubyan Island, west of the Shatt al Arab River discharge area, while immature adults (maturity stages 1 – 4) clustered inside Kuwait Bay, where catch was greater. This study provides GIS and statistical based support for the presumed location of spawning and nursery grounds as well as the migratory patterns of this species. Additionally, the present work confirms the roll of Kuwait Bay as foraging grounds for silver pomfret. The proposed MPA was identified where mature and juvenile hotspots were located coinciding with areas of moderate temperature and salinity, as well as the region between them, which constitute as marine ecological corridor.