African Journal of Marine Science

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Patterns in abundance, population structure and biology of knife prawn Haliporoides triarthrus on deep-water trawl grounds off eastern South Africa

J Robey, ST Fennessy, BI Everett, J Santos, JC Groeneveld


The deep-water trawl fishery along the KwaZulu-Natal coast of South Africa targets several crustacean species, with the knife (or pink) prawn Haliporoides triarthrus contributing most of the catch. Logbook data of fishing effort and catch between 1988 and 2010 were used to assess the distribution and abundance of H. triarthrus on fishing grounds. Generalised linear models were used to quantify the effects of year, month and depth on catch rates. Standardised trends indicated a general decline in abundance between 1990 and 1998, followed by an increase between 2001 and 2008. Catch rates peaked in March, and they were highest between 200 and 499 m depth. Biological samples collected during commercial fishing were used to assess size and sex composition, growth rates and reproductive activity of H. triarthrus. Females became larger than males and mean carapace length (CL) varied by month. The youngest female cohort appeared in November (modal CL of 25 mm), and dissipated after two years (39 mm). Sex ratios were equal for all data combined, but fluctuated by month and CL. Few reproductively active females were recorded. Length-based methods and the standard von Bertalanffy growth function were used to estimate growth parameters (L&#8734 and K) of females (40.6 mm CL and 1.06 y–1) and males (35.2 mm and 1.27 y–1) respectively. Our findings were compared with information on H. triarthrus from Mozambican waters.

Keywords: catch per unit effort, generalised linear modelling, growth, long-term data, sex ratio, size composition

African Journal of Marine Science 2013, 35(4): 565–577
AJOL African Journals Online