Reproductive biology and implications for management of the orange-spotted grouper Epinephelus coioides in the southern Arabian Gulf
The reproductive biology of Epinephelus coioides was determined from the examination of 1455 individuals collected between July 2005 and June 2007 in the southern Arabian Gulf. Histological preparations of gonads indicated that males were either derived from a juvenile phase or the transition of postspawning females, confirming a diandric protogynous sexual pattern. The spawning season was well defined, occurring once a year during April and early May. Peaks in spawning occurred after the full and new moons and was completed within a single lunar cycle. The presence of mature males over the entire size and age range and the absence of inactive mature females during the spawning season suggested that the population was not constrained by sperm limitation. While specimens undergoing sexual transition were only observed in size and age ranges of 335–685 mm total length (LT) and 5–6 years, patterns in the proportion of males in size and age classes suggested that sex change occurred at a relatively constant rate after female maturation up to the maximum size (1002 mm LT) and age (11 years). Relationships between reproductive output and capacity with size and age indicated that conventional regulations that equate the mean size at first capture to sexual maturation are unsuitable for the management of E. coioides. The maximum age, small size and young age at sexual maturation (Lmin= 320 mm LT, 2 years, for females and 242 mm LT, 1 year, for males) conflict with the general pattern for large epinepheline groupers and may be a direct result of the intensive demersal fishery in the southern Arabian Gulf.
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