Distribution patterns, stock size and life-history strategies of cape horse mackerel trachurus trachurus capensis, based on bottom trawl and acoustic surveys
AbstractResearch surveys of Cape horse mackerel Trachurus trachurus capensis abundance on the south coast of South Africa are complicated because changes in the species’ vertical and horizontal distribution limit the value
of stock assessments based a single survey method. Annual bottom trawl surveys conducted in spring provide estimates of the abundance of fish close to the bottom over trawlable grounds. Between 1991 and 1994, hydroacoustic surveys conducted in spring have been used to estimate the pelagic portion of the stock, as well as the portion over untrawlable grounds. These two research datasets, as well as data from purse-seine, midwater and bottom trawl commercial landings, are reviewed to elucidate distribution patterns of horse mackerel and their migratory and spawning strategies. The problems and advantages of bottom trawl and acoustic surveys are discussed in the context of fluctuations in estimates of the size of the stock between 1991 and 1994 and the prevailing environmental conditions. It is concluded that combined acoustic and bottom trawl surveys are the only effective means of surveying horse mackerel, and that effort should be concentrated east of 22°E to assess the spawner stock. It is suggested that research effort directed at improving understanding of exchanges between West Coast (including Namibia) and South Coast population of horse mackerel, as well as of the role of vertical
migrations in modulating these exchanges, would be beneficial.