African Journal of Marine Science

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Comparison of the population structure and life-history parameters of Diplodus capensis (Sparidae) in exploited and unexploited areas of southern Angola

TJ Richardson, WM Potts, CV Santos, WHH Sauer


Blacktail seabream Diplodus capensis were sampled from proximate (10 km apart) exploited and unexploited areas in southern Angola to compare their population structures and life-history parameters. Females dominated the larger size and older age classes in the unexploited area. In the exploited area the length and age frequency distributions were more equitable, but there was a lack of large and old individuals in this area due to the selective nature of fishing gear. Growth zone deposition rate was validated as being annual using mark-recapture of chemically injected (oxytetracycline) fish. In the unexploited area, females attained larger sizes and greater ages than males; however, growth and longevity were more equitable between the sexes in the exploited area. Length- and age-at-50% maturity were similar between the sexes in both areas. The sex ratio was heavily female-skewed (1:4.7) in the unexploited area but less so in the exploited area (1:2.2). Although the growth curves were significantly different for fish between areas, this was likely due to a reduction in longevity rather than a physiological change in growth. The length- and age-at-50% maturity was also similar between areas, indicating that this species either does not have the ability to respond to exploitation through physiological change in these life-history characteristics, or that the current level of exploitation is not high enough to elicit such a response. However, the female dominance in the smallest size class in the exploited area (compared to the unexploited area) indicated that a threshold may have been reached, and that this species responds to exploitation by increasing the relative number of fish that mature as females.

Keywords: age and growth, blacktail seabream, maturity, sex ratio, subsistence fishing

African Journal of Marine Science 2011, 33(2): 191–201
AJOL African Journals Online