Short-lived species are extremely dependent on the seasonal and interannual variability of environmental conditions, and determining their stock status is often difficult. This study investigates the effects of environmental variability and fishing pressure on the stock of octopus Octopus vulgaris in Senegalese waters over a 10-year period from 1996 to 2005. Monthly catches-at-age were estimated based on catch-at-weight data and a polymodal decomposition constrained by a given growth curve. Octopus recruitments and fishing mortalities were then estimated using a catch-at-age analysis performed on a monthly basis. Yield and biomass per recruit were simulated using a Thompson and Bell model and used to generate a diagnostic of the fishery’s impacts. Results indicate that the high interannual and seasonal variability of the octopus stock biomass is linked to the spring recruitment event, the annual intensity of which was significantly correlated with the coastal upwelling index and sea surface temperature. Yield per recruit varied seasonally but remained almost unchanged from one year to the next. Even when catches vary strongly according to recruitment, the octopus stock appears to be consistently fully exploited, or slightly overexploited in some years. In this context of environmental variability, usual indicators such as the maximum yield per recruit, and the related fishing mortality and spawning potential ratio, remain useful for fisheries management purposes.
Keywords: environment, fishery, indicators, population dynamics, Senegal, stock assessment, West Africa
African Journal of Marine Science 2011, 33(2): 209–222