Data for the sustainable management of an emerging fishery: Age, growth and stock structure of Atlantic saury Scomberesox saurus saurus (Walbaum), in the Northeastern Atlantic Ocean
García, Antonio Agiiera
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Almost half of Ireland’s commercial stocks face overexploitation. As traditional species decrease in abundance and become less profitable, the industry is increasingly turning to alternate species. Atlantic saury (Scomberesox saurus saurus (Walbaum)) has been identified as a potential species for exploitation. Very little information is available on its biology or population dynamics, especially for Irish waters. This thesis aims to obtain sound scientific data, which will help to ensure that a future Atlantic saury fishery can be sustainably managed. The research has produced valuable data, some of which contradicts previous studies. Growth of Atlantic saury measured using otolith microstructure is found to be more than twice that previously calculated from annual structures on scales and otoliths. This results in a significant reduction of the expected life span from five to about two years. Investigation of maturity stage at age indicates that Atlantic saury will reproduce for the first time at age one and will survive for one or at most two reproduction seasons. It is concluded that a future Irish fishery will target mostly fish prior to their first reproduction. Finally the thesis gives some insights into the population structure of Atlantic saury, by analysis of otolith morphometric. Significant differences are detected between Northeastern Atlantic and western Mediterranean Sea specimens of the 0+ age class (less than one year old). The implications of these results for the management of an emerging fishery are discussed.
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