Age, growth and age at maturity of gag, Mycteroperca microlepis, from the southeastern United States during 1994–1995
The gag, Mycteroperca microlepis, is one of the most important snapper/grouper complex species harvested commercially in the southeastern United States. We investigated the age, growth, and age at maturity of gag in the South Atlantic Bight (SAB) during 1994 and 1995. Otoliths were collected from 1964 gag, of which ages were obtained for 1783 specimens with a mean length of 820 mm TL and a median age of 5 yrs old. Data collected during 1994–95 were compared to data collected from the SAB during 1976–82. Observed mean lengths at ages 1 through 10 and age-18 were significantly larger during 1994–95 than 1976–82 (P < 0.05). The age at first maturity decreased by one year from 3.8 yrs old in 1976–82 to 2.8 yrs old in 1994–95. The maturity-at-age curves were significantly different (P < 0.01, probit analysis). Our study shows significant changes in some life history parameters that may have resulted from increases in fishing mortality. Given the limitations of other potential management strategies, a system of "marine reserves" may be the most practical method of stabilizing the population of gag in the SAB.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2000-01-01
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