Age and size composition, growth rate, reproductive biology, and habitats of the West Australian dhufish (Glaucosoma hebraicum) and their relevance to the management of this species


Hesp, Sybrand A., Ian C. Potter, and Norman G. Hall
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Samples of the commercially and recreationally important West Australian dhufish (Glaucosoma hebraicum) were obtained from the lower west coast of Australia by a variety of methods. Fish <300 mm TL were caught over flat, hard substrata and low-lying limestone reefs, whereas larger fish were caught over larger limestone and coral reef formations. Maximum total lengths, weights, and ages were 981 mm, 15.3 kg, and 39 years, respectively, for females and 1120 mm, 23.2 kg, and 41 years, respectively, for males. The von Bertalanffy growth curves for females and males were significantly different. The values for L∞, k, and t0 in the von Bertalanffy growth equations were 929 mm, 0.111/year, and –0.141 years, respectively, for females, and 1025 mm, 0.111/year, and –0.052 years, respectively, for males. Preliminary estimates of total mortality indicated that G. hebraicum is now subjected to a level of fishing pressure that must be of concern to fishery managers. Glaucosoma hebraicum, which spawns between November and April and predominantly between December and March, breeds at a wide range of depths and is a multiple spawner. The L50’s for females and males at first maturity, i.e. 301 and 320 mm, respectively, were attained by about the end of the third year of life and are well below the minimum legal length (MLL) of 500 mm. Because females and males did not reach the MLL until the end of their seventh and sixth years of life, respectively, they would have had, on average, the opportunity of spawning during four and three spawning seasons, respectively, before they reached the MLL. However, because G. hebraicum caught in water depths >40 m typically die upon release, a MLL is of limited use for conserving this species. Alternative approaches, such as restricting fishing activity in highly fished areas, reducing daily bag limits for recreational fishermen, introducing quotas or revising specific details of certain commercial hand-line licences (or doing both) are more likely to provide effective conservation measures.