Age and growth of Cape stumpnose Rhabdosargus holubi (Pisces: Sparidae) in the Eastern Cape, South Africa
Rhabdosargus holubi is a small (maximum weight = 2.4 kg) yet important fishery species in the estuaries of the south-east coast of South Africa. Little is known of its biology and specifically its growth rate, which is essential for sustainable management of the fishery. We examined and counted the opaque zones in the sectioned otoliths of 134 R. holubi to determine its age and growth parameters. The otoliths from two recaptured fish marked with oxytetracycline confirmed that one opaque zone was deposited annually. The species reached a maximum age of 18 years and growth was adequately described by a von Bertalanffy growth function of the form: Lt = 358.1 (1 – e–0.24(t+0.77)) mm fork length. There were no significant differences between any of the male and female growth parameters (likelihood ratio test: p = 0.3). The growth was slow (omega index: ω = 86.56); however, despite this, the unique life history of R. holubi may provide a degree of resilience to heavy fishing pressure in estuaries.
Keywords: estuarine fishery, growth ring validation, marine conservation, otoliths