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Open Access item Changes in size at maturity of European hake Atlantic populations in relation with stock structure and environmental regimes

Authors:Domínguez-Petit, Rosario
Korta, María
Saborido-Rey, Fran
Murua, Hilario
Saínza, María
Piñeiro, Carmen G.
Keywords:Size at sexual maturity, Galician Coast, Population structure, Bay of Biscay, Environmental effects, Gadoid fisheries, Hake, Merluccius merluccius
Issue Date:2008
Citation:Journal of Marine Systems 71(3-4): 260-278 (2008)
Abstract:European hake (Merluccius merluccius) female size at maturity is estimated on an annual basis for Bay of Biscay and Galician coast, which are parts of the distribution of the Northern and Southern stocks, respectively. Clear trends in this reproductive parameter are observed along the time series and the potential factors affecting these trends have been investigated. Total biomass, different indexes of SSB, age diversity index, fishing mortality at age, NAO winter index, upwelling index and temperature were included in multiple regressions models to assess the relative importance of each of them on shifts in size at maturity. Bay of Biscay and Galician coast hake have followed different evolution in patterns of changes in size at maturity. In Bay of Biscay, a steadily decline of 15 cm has been observed from 1987 to 2004, which is well predicted by fishing mortality and age diversity, but also the environment may have played an important role. However, on the Galician coast a drastic decline of 16 cm from 1980 to 1988 was followed by a rapid increase in size at maturity during the next 10 years to original values and a stable period in the last 6 years. Decreasing biomass may explain the decline in size at maturity in the first period. However, total biomass and spawning biomass declined even during the period when size at maturity increased, which is contrary to compensatory theory. Shifts in environmental regime, NAO and upwelling, may have contributed to a decelerated growth during this period that might explain the later maturation.
Publisher version (URL):http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jmarsys.2007.04.004
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