AB 18:161-174 (2013)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00501

Exceptional longevity, slow growth and late maturation infer high inherent vulnerability to exploitation for bass groper Polyprion americanus (Teleostei: Polyprionidae)

Corey B. Wakefield*, Stephen J. Newman, Dion K. Boddington

Western Australian Fisheries and Marine Research Laboratories, Department of Fisheries, Government of Western Australia, PO Box 20, North Beach, Western Australia 6920, Australia

ABSTRACT: The bass groper Polyprion americanus is a large demersal teleost (>1.5 m) that inhabits deep continental and oceanic island slopes (50 to 1000 m). Currently, this species is considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN and there is a moratorium on its capture in Brazil. Fishing for this species is no longer commercially viable in Bermuda and they are fully protected in South Africa. In most other locations, this species is rarely encountered and knowledge of its biology and catch history is limited. In the present study, specimens were collected from recreational and commercial catches (n = 151) in the southeastern Indian Ocean from 2005 to 2012. Otolith edge analysis was used to verify that a single opaque zone was deposited annually from May to September. A maximum age of 78 yr for females and 55 yr for males was determined from thin transverse sections of otoliths. The spawning period of this gonochorist was from autumn to early winter (March to June) and partitioned prior to that of the sympatric congener P. oxygeneios (June to September). The lengths and ages at which 50% of females and males matured were 944 and 808 mm total length, and 14.4 and 11.2 yr, respectively. The exceptional longevity, slow growth and late maturation of P. americanus imply a high inherent vulnerability at relatively low levels of exploitation. As such, the overexploitation of P. americanus in both Brazil and Bermuda should warrant close scrutiny in the waters off southwestern Australia, where exploitation of deepwater fisheries resources has increased.


KEY WORDS: Life history · Age · Thin otolith sections · Natural mortality · Spawning period · Deepwater · Reproduction · Continental slope · Indian Ocean


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Cite this article as: Wakefield CB, Newman SJ, Boddington DK (2013) Exceptional longevity, slow growth and late maturation infer high inherent vulnerability to exploitation for bass groper Polyprion americanus (Teleostei: Polyprionidae). Aquat Biol 18:161-174. https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00501

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