Age, growth, and spawning season of red bream (Beryx decadactylus) off the southeastern United States


Friess, Claudia, and George R. Sedberry
Cover date: 

Red bream (Beryx decadactylus) is a commercially important deep-sea benthopelagic fish with a circumglobal distribution on insular and continental slopes and seamounts. In the United States, small numbers are caught incidentally in the wreckfish (Polyprion americanus) fishery which operates off the southeastern coast, but no biological information exists for the management of the U.S. red bream population. For this study, otoliths (n=163) and gonads (n=161) were collected from commercially caught red bream between 2003 and 2008 to determine life history parameters. Specimens ranged in size from 410 to 630 mm fork length and were all determined to be mature by histological examination of the gonads. Females in spawning condition were observed from June through September, and reproductively active males were found year-round. Sectioned otoliths were difficult to interpret, but maximum age estimates were much higher than the 15 years previously reported for this species from the eastern North Atlantic based on whole-otolith analysis. Estimated ages ranged from 8 to 69 years, and a minimum lifespan of 49 years was validated by using bomb radiocarbon dating. Natural mortality was estimated at 0.06/yr. This study shows that red bream are longer lived and more vulnerable to overfishing than previously assumed and should be managed carefully to prevent overexploitation.