Age, growth and natural mortality of blue jack mackerel Trachurus picturatus (Carangidae) from the Canary Islands, Spain (NW Africa)
Status assessment of exploited fish populations is a general requirement to ensure sustainability of fisheries in both global and local contexts. The blue jack mackerel Trachurus picturatus (Bowdich, 1825) remains unassessed in a data-limited fishery in the eastern central Atlantic, within the waters of the Canary Islands (Spain) off the coast of northwest Africa. This is the most southwestern targeted fishery in the species’ distributional range. To obtain basic life-history information, a total of 2 472 specimens were analysed, ranging from 10.2 to 31.9 cm total length, from samples collected monthly between March 2005 and March 2006. Length–weight relationships (a = 0.0023; b = 3.418; R2 = 0.97) showed no significant difference between sexes. Deposition periodicity and coherence of the ageing criteria were verified by analysis of the monthly evolution of the otolith edge. Ages were estimated by counting annual growth rings on whole otoliths, with these fish ranging from age 0 to 6 years. The von Bertalanffy growth model, which was used to estimate growth parameters from both direct readings and back-calculated length-at-age data, gave good statistical fits. The parameters from the direct readings were: L∞ = 34.9 cm; k = 0.214 y–1; t0 = −2.545 y (R2 = 0.84), and the natural mortality rates estimated from empirical methods varied between 0.20 and 0.55 y–1.
Keywords: ageing criteria, eastern central Atlantic, data-limited fishery, otolith shape, small pelagic fish