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PLoS One. 2014 May 5;9(5):e96392. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0096392. eCollection 2014.

Demographic structure, sex ratio and growth rates of southern bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) on the spawning ground.

Author information

  • 1Wealth from Oceans Flagship, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.
  • 2Institute for Mariculture Research and Development, Gondol, Bali, Indonesia.
  • 3Research Institute for Tuna Fisheries, Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.

Abstract

The demographics of the southern bluefin tuna (SBT) Thunnus maccoyii spawning stock were examined through a large-scale monitoring program of the Indonesian longline catch on the spawning ground between 1995 and 2012. The size and age structure of the spawning population has undergone significant changes since monitoring began. There has been a reduction in the relative abundance of larger/older SBT in the catch since the early 2000s, and a corresponding decrease in mean length and age, but there was no evidence of a significant truncation of the age distribution. Pulses of young SBT appear in the catches in the early- and mid-2000s and may be the first evidence of increased recruitment into the spawning stock since 1995. Fish in these two recruitment pulses were spawned around 1991 and 1997. Size-related variations in sex ratio were also observed with female bias for fish less than 170 cm FL and male bias for fish greater than 170 cm FL. This trend of increasing proportion of males with size above 170 cm FL is likely to be related to sexual dimorphism in growth rates as male length-at-age is greater than that for females after age 10 years. Mean length-at-age of fish aged 8-10 years was greater for both males and females on the spawning ground than off the spawning ground, suggesting that size may be the dominant factor determining timing of maturation in SBT. In addition to these direct results, the data and samples from this program have been central to the assessment and management of this internationally harvested stock.

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