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Assessing changes in size at maturity for the European hake (Merluccius merluccius) in Atlantic Iberian Waters
Davinia Lojo, Marta Cousido-Rocha, Santiago Cerviño, Rosario Dominguez-Petit, María Sainza, Maria Grazia Pennino

European hake (Merluccius merluccius) is a commercially important resource in Iberian Atlantic waters. Despite the recovery plan implemented in 2006 and the multiannual management plan for western waters, fishing mortality is still higher than that corresponding to the maximum sustainable yield for the southern European hake stock. The biological processes underlying the dynamics of this stock and its life history traits are essential for assessing population productivity and resilience, making them basic information for management. We analysed the temporal variability of size at maturity (L50) of this species and the main factors influencing it in Atlantic Iberian waters from 1982 to 2019. The annual variability of L50 for each sex was modelled with generalized additive models, considering explanatory environmental variables (Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, North Atlantic Oscillation and sea surface temperature) and biological variables (biomass, spawning biomass at length and relative condition factor). The results showed that the L50 of males decreased by a total of 12.9 cm and L50 of females decreased by a total of 10.9 cm from 1982 to 2019. For females the significant explanatory variables were year, spawning biomass at length, biomass and the North Atlantic Oscillation, while for males only year was an explanatory variable. These results are important for understanding the status of the European hake population, signalling that L50 is a good indicator for predicting future population dynamics.

Keywords: North Atlantic Oscillation; life history; reproductive traits; relative condition factor; southern European stock
Contents of this volume Sci. Mar. 86(4) : 46-46 Back PDF
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