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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Age validation of yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) in the Indian Ocean using post-peak bomb radiocarbon chronologies

Igaratza Fraile*, Patricia L. Luque, Steven E. Campana, Jessica H. Farley, Kyne Krusic-Golub, Naomi Clear, J. Paige Eveson, Iraide Artetxe-Arrate, Iker Zudaire, Hilario Murua, Gorka Merino

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) stock assessments use age-structured models; therefore, accurate methods for ageing the catch are required. Age estimation techniques need to be validated at the population level to ensure accuracy. However, otolith-based age estimates of yellowfin tuna have never been validated in the Indian Ocean. The current study provides the first age validation for Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna using the post-peak decline period of the bomb radiocarbon (14C) chronometer. A 14C reference chronology based on accelerator mass spectrometry assays of known-age yellowfin tuna otoliths was consistent with published regional coral records, with all showing similar rates of decline during the 2000 to 2019 study period. After back-calculating the birth years of sub-adult and adult yellowfin tuna from otolith increment counts, ∆14C values measured in the early growth portion of the otolith were compared with the observed decline slope of the reference chronology. There were no significant differences between the birth years of validation and reference samples, supporting the otolith increment age determination methodology between the ages of 2.2 and 10.5 years. The validation of age and growth estimates is expected to benefit the assessment models for Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna. We recommend that otoliths from large fish continue to be collected to expand the validation to older fish. Greater precision in the validation results will also require a larger reference chronology.