Seasonal growth of King George whiting (Sillaginodes punctata) estimated from length-at-age samples of the legal-size harvest


McGarvey, Richard, and Anthony J. Fowler
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Samples of 11,000 King George whiting (Sillaginodes punctata) from the South Australian commercial and recreational catch, supplemented by research samples, were aged from otoliths. Samples were analyzed from three coastal regions and by sex. Most sampling was undertaken at fish processing plants, from which only fish longer than the legal minimum length were obtained. A left-truncated normal distribution of lengths at monthly age was therefore employed as model likelihood. Mean length-at-monthly-age was described by a generalized von Bertalanffy formula with sinusoidal seasonality. Likelihood standard deviation was modeled to vary allometrically with mean length. A range of related formulas (with 6 to 8 parameters) for seasonal mean length at age were compared. In addition to likelihood ratio tests of relative fit, model selection criteria were a minimum occurrence of high uncertainties (>20% SE), of high correlations (>0.9, >0.95, and >0.99) and of parameter estimates at their biological limits, and we sought a model with a minimum number of parameters. A generalized von Bertalanffy formula with t0 fixed at 0 was chosen. The truncated likelihood alleviated the overestimation bias of mean length at age that would otherwise accrue from catch samples being restricted to legal sizes.