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A validated description of age and growth of western Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus)

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Abstract:

Current stock assessments of western Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) use age-structured population analyses, but the age assignment in the population model is made using an age–length relationship derived from mark and recapture studies largely completed during the 1970s. In our study, the deposition of bomb radiocarbon was used as a dated mark to validate age inferences of bluefin tuna and to compare the validated ages with those predicted from the age–length relationship. The results support the view that the age–length relationship currently in use for the assessment overestimates growth rate and the ultimate size of the fish. These findings have implications for the estimation of stock productivity and may negatively impact the rebuilding schedules established by fisheries managers.

Les évaluations courantes des stocks de thons rouges (Thunnus thynnus) dans l’Atlantique ouest sont basées sur des analyses de populations structurées en fonction de l’âge, mais l’attribution des âges dans le modèle démographique se fait à partir de relations âge–longueur obtenues lors d’études de marquage et de recapture réalisées en grande partie dans les années 1970. Dans notre étude, nous utilisons les dépôts de radiocarbone provenant des essais nucléaires comme repères de date connue pour valider les estimations de l’âge chez les thons rouges et pour comparer ces âges validés à ceux prédits à partir des relations âge–longueur. Nos résultats appuient le point de vue qui veut que la relation âge–longueur en usage courant pour l’évaluation des stocks surestime le taux de croissance et la taille finale des poissons. Ces observations ont des conséquences sur l’estimation de la productivité des stocks et peuvent avoir un impact négatif sur les calendriers de reconstruction établis par les gestionnaires des pêches.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-08-01

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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