Do fluctuations in the somatic growth rate of rock lobster (Jasus lalandii) encompass all size classes? A re-assessment of juvenile growth


Hazell, R. W. Anthony, David S. Schoeman, and Mark N. Noffke
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Catch rates in the South African rock lobster (Jasus lalandii) fishery declined after 1989 in response to reduced adult somatic growth rates and a consequent reduction in recruitment to the fishable population. Although spatial and temporal trends in adult growth are well described, little is known about how juvenile growth rates have been affected. In our study, growth rates of juvenile rock lobster on Cape Town harbor wall were compared with those recorded at the same site more than 25 years prior to our study, and with those on a nearby natural nursery reef. We found that indices of somatic growth measured during 1996–97 at the harbor wall had declined significantly since 1971–72. Furthermore, growth was slower among juvenile J. lalandii at the harbor wall than those at the natural nursery reef. These results suggest that growth rates of juvenile and adult J. lalandii exhibit similar types of spatiotemporal patterns. Thus, the recent coastwide decline in adult somatic growth rates might also encompass smaller size classes.