MEPS 148:37-47 (1997)  -  doi:10.3354/meps148037

Spawning stock dynamics of two penaeid prawns, Metapenaeus bennettae and Penaeus esculentus, in Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia

Courtney AJ, Masel JM

Spawning stock dynamics of 2 commercially important penaeid prawns, Metapenaeus bennettae and Penaeus esculentus, from 9 stations in Moreton Bay (27°15'S, 153°15'E), southeast Queensland, Australia, were examined. An egg production index (EPI), based on the relative abundance, proportion that were mature or ripe, and size of adult females, was used as a measure of egg production in the 2 populations. Egg production by M. bennettae was 20 to 30 higher than that by P. esculentus, extended over 7 to 8 mo each year and peaked from February to March (late summer to early autumn). Monthly patterns in egg production by M. bennettae varied between years. In contrast, P. esculentus produced most of its eggs in a single, clearly defined peak in October (spring), although production continued to March (early autumn) each year. The seasonal onset and subsequent decline in maturation in P. esculentus were rapid. Egg production by M. bennettae was several times higher at the 5 northern stations than at the 4 southern stations and negatively correlated with salinity during the main spawning period. Egg production by P. esculentus was less varied among stations and positively correlated with depth. P. esculentus appeared more likely than M. bennettae to experience recruitment overfishing because (1) the peak spawning period for P. esculentus was dependent on relatively few adult females spawning over a short period, and (2) the selectivity of trawl nets used in the bay was much higher for P. esculentus spawners than for those of M. bennettae. Compared with more northern populations, P. esculentus in Moreton Bay matured at a larger size, had lower incidences of insemination and mature or ripe females, and had a shorter spawning period. These results suggest the likelihood of recruitment overfishing in P. esculentus increases with increasing latitude.

Egg production index · Spawning stock · Penaeid prawn · Recruitment overfishing

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