Age, growth and population dynamics of lemon sole Microstomus kitt (Walbaum 1792) sampled off the West Coast of Ireland
The age, growth, maturity and population dynamics of lemon sole (Microstomus kitt), captured off the west coast of Ireland (ICES division Vllb), were determined for the period November 2000 to February 2002. The maximum age recorded was 14 years. Males of the population were dominated by 4 year olds, while females were dominated by 5 year olds. Females dominated the sex ratio in the overall sample, each month sampled, at each age and from 22cm in total length onwards (when N > 20). Possible reasons for the dominance of females in the sex ratio are discussed. Three models were used to obtain the parameters of the von Bertalanfly growth equation. These were the Ford-Walford plot (Beverton and Holt 1957), the Gulland and Holt plot (1959) and the Rafail (1973) method. Results of the fitted von Bertalanffy growth curves showed that female lemon sole o f f the west coast of Ireland grew faster than males and attained a greater size. Male and female lemon sole mature from 2 years of age onwards. There is evidence in the population o f a smaller asymptotic length (L«, = 34.47cm), faster growth rate (K = 0.1955) and younger age at first maturity, all of which are indicative o f a decrease in population size, when present results are compared to data collected in the same area 22 years earlier. Results of the yield per recruit curve indicate that lemon sole are currently being over-fished o f f the west coast of Ireland. Problems of selectivity within the sampling method, particularly at the discarding stage, may have influenced the outcome of results of the models used in the assessment of this stock. Therefore, additional/future work on this species should include catch data which incorporates discards and not landings data alone.
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