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ESR prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr01024

Demography of the largest and most endangered Brazilian parrotfish Scarus trispinosus reveals overfishing

Natalia C. Roos*, Brett M. Taylor, Adriana R. Carvalho, Guilherme O. Longo

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Many parrotfishes (Labridae: Scarinae) have life history traits that make them vulnerable to overfishing, including late maturation and long lifespans. The greenbeak parrotfish Scarus trispinosus is the largest Brazilian endemic parrotfish and has been harvested in reef-associated fisheries along the coast. After a sharp population decline, S. trispinosus is now considered an endangered species. We provide an assessment of age-based and reproductive biology for this species and discuss applications for fisheries management. We sampled 95 individuals from inshore and offshore reefs from Rio Grande do Norte state, Northeast Brazil, both obtained from artisanal fishing landings and fishery-independent collections. All sampled specimens were females with a fork length (FL) ranging from 8.1 to 55.9 cm and ages ranging from 0.3 to 7 years, with estimated median maturity (L50) of 39.2 cm FL and age (A50) of 4.2 years. Size class distributions indicate that the inshore reefs are mostly inhabited by juveniles under L50, whereas the offshore reefs are inhabited by mature individuals, suggesting an ontogenetic habitat shift from inshore to offshore reefs around the timing of maturation. The fishing pressure on this species is concentrated in inshore reefs, therefore mostly on immature individuals, which may be severely affecting the reproductive capacity of this species. This information is useful to guide size-based fisheries management, such as regulating minimum capture size and fishing gears that capture individuals smaller than the L50. Managing fisheries of endangered species with late maturity and complex reproductive cycles such as S. trispinosus is imperative to aid recovery.