Reproductive strategy and spawning activity of the European hake Merluccius merluccius (L.) in the Bay of Biscay
Histological examination of ovaries from European hake Merluccius merluccius from the Bay of Biscay sampled on a monthly basis from December 1996 to October 1997 demonstrated that European hake exhibit indeterminate fecundity. Oocyte development is asynchronous with a continuous oocyte size-frequency distribution in prespawning, spawning and postspawning females, and a gradual decrease in the mean diameter of advanced yolked oocytes as spawning proceeds. Spawning European hake were observed throughout the 11 month study period. The spawning fraction ranged from 0·085 to 0·207, which is equivalent to a batch interval of 5–12 days. The spawning fraction and proportion of spawning females were highest from January to March. Seasonal variation of atresia was inversely related to spawning fraction. Extensive atresia in individual fish was observed in September and October, when the spawning fraction was low.