Mean length, age, and otolith weight as potential indicators of biomass depletion for orange roughy, Hoplostethus atlanticus

R. I.C.C. Francis, David C. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

It is a common observation that the mean length in a fish population progressively decreases as the biomass is reduced by fishing. However, this has not happened with the population of orange roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus) on the Chatham Rise, New Zealand, even though the biomass is estimated to have declined by almost 80%. Because orange roughy are slow growing it might be expected that mean age (or its proxy, mean otolith weight) would be a more sensitive indicator of biomass decline than mean length. A simulation study shows that this is not true. With equal sample sizes, all three indicators are equally sensitive; on an equal cost basis, mean length is more sensitive than the others. A log transformation increases the sensitivity of age and otolith weight, but it is not clear whether this increase is sufficient to outweigh the much greater costs of measuring age and otolith weight, compared to length. Under the assumption of constant recruitment, it is more likely than not (P = 0.55-0.8) that a change in mean length would have been detected in the Chatham Rise population, given the estimated biomass decline.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-587
Number of pages7
JournalNew Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research
Volume29
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 1995
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Biomass
  • Hoplostethus atlanticus
  • Orange roughy

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