Age and growth of narrow-barred Spanish mackerel Scomberomorus commerson in the coastal waters of southern Mozambique and KwaZulu- Natal, South Africa
The narrow-barred Spanish mackerel Scomberomorus commerson is one of the most important linefish species caught in KwaZulu-Natal and southern Mozambique waters, forming the basis of important commercial, artisanal and recreational fisheries. A total of 439 S. commerson were sampled along the east coast of southern Africa (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and southern Mozambique) between April 2011 and March 2012. Retrospective length-at-age data observed from whole otoliths were used to compare and describe sex-specific growth. Growth rates obtained from otolith-derived data were compared with those estimated from 29 tag-recaptured fish. Overall, ages ranged from 0.48 to 14.6 years for females and 0.4 to 13.57 years for males. Otolith readings yielded an average percent error of 11.21%, lower than recorded in a previous study from the region. Marginal zone analysis provided strong evidence that one translucent and one opaque growth zone were laid down annually. Schnute growth-function parameters indicated significant differences in growth between sexes. Females approached their mean asymptotic length at a faster rate, and grew to a greater mean length-at-age, relative to males. Growth in both sexes was rapid, achieving 67.46 cm FL (females) and 65.4 cm FL (males) in their first year of life. Growth rates obtained from tag-recaptured S. commerson indicated slower growth for smaller/younger fish up until 70 cm FL after which growth was very similar to that observed from otolith-derived data. The results of this study provide accurate, validated life-history parameters for king mackerel that are important for the assessment of stock status in the region.
Keywords: back-calculation, growth estimates, otolith ageing, recreational fishery, Schnute model, Scombridae, sex-specific growth, tag-recapture data