Sex-specific growth and mortality, spawning season, and female maturation of the stripey bass (Lutjanus carponotatus) on the Great Barrrier Reef

Issue:

Author(s): 
Kritzer, Jacob P.
Cover date: 
2004
Pages: 
94-107
Abstract: 

Sex-specific demography and reproductive biology of stripey bass (Lutjanus carponotatus) (also known as Spanish flag snapper, FAO) were examined at the Palm and Lizard island groups, Great Barrier Reef (GBR).Total mortality rates were similar between the sexes. Males had larger L∞ at both island groups and Lizard Island group fish had larger overall L∞. Female:male sex ratios were 1.3 and 1.1 at the Palm and Lizard island groups, respectively. The former is statistically different from 1, but is unlikely significantly different in a biological sense. Females matured on average at 2 years of age and 190 mm fork length at both locations. Female gonadal lipid body indices peaked from August through October, preceding peak gonadosomatic indices in October, November, and December that were twice as great as in any other month. However, ovarian staging revealed 50% or more ovaries were ripe from September through February, suggesting a more protracted spawning season and highlighting the different interpretations that can arise between gonad weight and gonad staging methods. Gonadosomatic index increases slightly with body size and larger fish have a longer average spawning season, which suggests that larger fish produce greater relative reproductive output. Lizard Island group females had ovaries nearly twice as large as Palm Island group females at a given body size. However, it is unclear whether this reflects spatial differences akin to those observed in growth or effects of sampling Lizard Island group fish closer to their date of spawning. These results support an existing 250 mm minimum size limit for L. carponotatus on the GBR, as well as the timing of a proposed October through December spawning closure for the fishery. The results also caution against assessing reef-fish stocks without reference to sex-, size-, and location-specific biological traits.