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Biology of Wahoo in the Western Central Atlantic

Biology of Wahoo in the Western Central Atlantic

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Published by Peter A Murray
First published Gulf and Caribbean Research vol. 15
First published Gulf and Caribbean Research vol. 15

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Published by: Peter A Murray on Apr 10, 2008
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07/11/2012

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GulfandCaribbeanResearchVol.15,33-49,2003ManuscriptreceivedAugustI,2002;acceptedMarch17,2003
THEBIOLOGYOFWAHOO
(ACANTHOCYBIUM
SOLANDRI)
INTHEWESTERNCENTRALATLANTIC
HazelA.Oxenfordl,PeterA.Murray2,andBrianE.Luckhurst3
lCentreforResourceManagementandEnvironmentalStudies,UniversityoftheWestIndies,CaveHillCampus,Barbados20ECSEnvironmentandSustainableDevelopmentUnit,MorneFortune,P.O.Box
1383,
Castries,SaintLucia3DivisionofFisheries,P.
O.
BoxCR52,CrawlCRBX,BermudaABSTRACT
Thiscontributionsummarizesaspectsofthebiologyofthewahoo,
Acanthocybiumsolandri
(Scombridae),thatarepertinenttoassessmentandmanagementofthisspeciesinthewesterncentralAtlantic(WCA).Inthisregionwahooisatargetspeciesforbothcommercialandrecreationalfisheries,andannuallandingsappeartohaveincreasedsteadilyoverthelast30yearstoinexcessof2000mt.Wahooisbelievedtobemigratory,butlittleisknownofthemigrationpatterns.Significantseasonalvariationincatcheswithintheregionindicatesthatitisseasonallyabundantinmostlocations.PeriodsofpeakabundanceoccurfromthefallthroughspringinthesoutheasternandnorthernCaribbeanislands,andarerestrictedtothewarmermonths(latespringthroughearlyfall)inthemorenortherlylocations(northernGulfofMexico,NorthCarolina,andBermuda).Wahooexhibitsearlysexualmaturity(withinthefirstyear)andaspawningseasonthatextendsfromatleastMaytoOctober.Femalesaremultiplebatchspawnersandarehighlyfecund.Limitedageandgrowthstudiesindicatethatitisarelativelyfast-growingspecies,hashighmortality,andprobablylivesfor5-6years.Wahooisprimarilypiscivorous,althoughsomeinvertebratesincludingsquidsareeaten.Arelativelysmallnumberofparasitespecieshavebeenassociatedwithit.ThereisnoevidenceofmorethanasinglesharedstockofwahoointheWCA,andrecentgeneticstudies,usingRAPDmarkers,suggestthatstockboundariesmayextendbeyondthisregion.ThestatusofthewahooresourceintheWCAremainsunclear.ReliablewahoocatchandfishingeffortdatafromtheentireWCA,improvedknowledgeofmigrationpatterns,reproductivecharacteristicsandcriticalhabitat(e.g.,preferredspawningareas),validationofage,growthandmortalityestimates,andamorecomprehensiveanalysisofstockstructurefortheentireAtlanticareneededforinformedwahoostockassessmentandmanagement.
~INTRODUCTION
,
I
I
It
Thewahoo,
Acanthocybiumsolandri
Cuvier,isclassifiedinthefamilyScombridae.Johnson(1986)postulatedthatthisspeciesmaybemorecloselyrelatedtothebillfishes.However,arecentmolecularstudy(FinnertyandBlock1995)confirmsthatwahooisascombrid,notanistiophorid,beingcloselyrelatedtotheSpanishmackerels(Collette1999,Colletteetal.2001).Wahooisaslender,streamlined,oceanic,epipe-lagicfishandisimportanttocommercialandrecre-ationalfisheriesthroughoutthewesterncentralAtlantic,(WCA)(e,g.,Goodson1976,Collette1978,inpress,Mahon1993,SAFMC2000).Despiteitsimportancetofisheries,wahooremainsunmanaged.Furthermore,thebiologicalinformationneededtosupportmanagementofthisspeciesissomewhatsparseandisscatteredthroughoutthepublishedandunpublishedliterature.Inthispaperweattempttocompileandreviewthebiologi-calinformationavailableforwahoothatisrelevanttoassessmentandmanagementofthisspecies,atatimeofincreasinginterestinaddressingthemanagementofsharedpelagicstocksinthisregion(e.g.,SAFMC2000,CFRAMP2001,FAG2002a).
DISTRIBUTION,EXPLOITATIONANDSEASONALITY
Thewahoohasacircum-tropicaldistribution,oc-cupyingtropicalandsubtropicalwatersoftheAtlantic(includingtheMediterraneanandCaribbeanseas),Pa-cificandIndianoceans(ColletteandNauen1983),andextendingseasonallyintotemperatewaters(Hogarth1976).IntheWCA,wahoooccursfromasfarsouthasthenortheastcoastofBrazil(seeRobinsandRay1986)toasfarnorthasRhodeIslandintheUSA(seeGoodyear1999citedinSAFMC2000).Wahooisreportedtobepresentyear-roundthroughoutmuchoftheCaribbeanandGulfofMexico,althoughitsabundance,oravailabil-itytothefisheries,appearstohaveaseasonalpatterninmostplaces(Table1).Furthernorth,intheAtlantic(offNorthCarolinaandBermuda),somewahooappeartobepresentyear-round,butabundanceishighlyseasonal,withthefishbeingfarmoreabundantinthewarmermonths(Table1).WahooiscaughtbyrecreationalandcommercialfisheriesinSouthAmericaoffVenezuela(Cervig6n1994)andinlargenumbersbycommerciallonglinersoffBrazilandtheNetherlandsAntillesinthesouthernCaribbean(ICCAT2001,2002,FAG2002b).Itisatargetspeciesofcommerciallyimportantartisanalpe-l33,.J
 
OXENFORDETAL.
TABLE1LocationsandapproximateseasonalityofhighestcatchesofrecreationalandcommercialfisheriesforwahoointhewesterncentralAtlantic.Area
SouthAmerica
LocationHighestcatches
?
Selectedreferences
FAO2002bCervig6n1994ICCAT2001,2002ICCAT2002Mahonetal.1982,1990Mahon1993Georgeetal.2001Brandon1987SAFMC1998Harvey1988Rivas1951Franksetal.2000Goodyear1999(inSAFMC
(
SouthernCaribbeanSoutheasternCaribbeanNorthernCaribbeanUSVirginIslandsPuertoRicoJamaicaCubaBahamasNorthernGulfofMexico2000)EasternUSA2000)AtlanticBermuda
1agicfisheriesthroughoutthesoutheasternCaribbeanislandsofGrenada(FinlayandRennie1988),Barbados(Mahonetal.1982),St.Lucia(MurrayandSt.Marthe1991,GobertandDomalain1995),Dominica(Guisteetal.1996),Martinique(GuillouandLagin2000),andGuadeloupe(Reynaletal.1999).Althoughitislandedyear-roundinthesoutheasternCaribbean,catchratesfor"kingfish"(anaggregategroupcomposedprimarilyofwahooandasmallproportionofkingmackerel)arelowestduringthesummermonths(July-September)andshowseverallowmodesfromNovemberthroughJune(e.g.,Hunte1987,Mahonetal.1990,OECS1996,Georgeetal.2001).InthenorthernCaribbean,wahooiscaughtbyrecreationalandcommercialartisanalfishersofftheCaymanIslands(Barnes1972citedinHogarth1976),Jamaica(Aiken1993,Mahon1995,Harvey1988),thenorthwestcoastofCuba(Rivas1951,Collette1978),theDominicanRepublic(Brown2001),PuertoRico(CentaurAssoc.1983),theUSVirginIslands(Hogarth1976,OlsenandWood1983,CentaurAssoc.1983,Brandon1987),andtheBahamas(Hogarth1976,Franks?Latefall-earlysummerSep-MarSep-MarFeb-MayWi)1terFall-WinterSpring-FallJul-AugFranksetal.2000Hogarth1976ManoochandLaws1979Manoochetal.1981Goodyear1999(inSAFMCApr-SepLuckhurstandTrott2000etal.2000).Ingeneral,highestcatchesinthisregionoccurfromthefallthroughearlyspring(Table1),althoughHarvey(1988)notedthatpeakwahoocatchesinJamaicaoccurfromFebruarytoMay.WahooisimportanttocommercialandrecreationalfisheriesinthenorthernGulfofMexico(Texas,Loui-siana,Mississippi,Alabama,andwesternFlorida),theAtlanticfromtheFloridaStraitstoNorthCarolina(Hogarth1976,Goodyear1999citedinSAFMC2000),andBermuda(LuckhurstandWard1996,Smith-Vanizetal.1999).InthenorthernGulfofMexico,wahooiscaughtyear-round,althoughtheyareapparentlymoreabundantduringspringthroughfall(Franksetal.2000).IntheAtlantic,wahooarereportedofftheeastcoastofFloridayear-roundandfurthernorthoffSouthCarolinaduringthespringandsummer(SAFMC1998).OffNorthCarolina,thereissomeevidencethatwahoomaybepresentintheGulfStreamyear-round,althoughtheyareonlyconsideredtobeabundantfromlateJulythroughAugust(Hogarth1976,ManoochandLaws1979,Manoochetal.1981).InBermuda,wahooistakenyear-round,butcatcheshaveastrongseasonalpattern
~..34
 
WAHOOBIOLOGYINTHEWCA
.
with60-70%oftheannuallandingsconsistentlyoccur-ringinthesecondandthirdquartersoftheyear(April-September)(LuckhurstandTrott2000).Historically,therearespring(April-May)andfall(August-Septem-ber)runsofwahooinBermudawhichvaryinter-annu-allyinmagnitudeandtoalesserdegreeintiming(LuckhurstandTrott2000).Wahoolandingsareconsis-tentlylowest(5-8%ofannuallandings)inthefirstquarterwhichcoincideswiththelowestwatertempera-tures(18-l9°C)aswellasreducedfishingeffort.EstimatedannuallandingsofwahoointheWCAarereportedcollaborativelybyICCATandFAO,althoughslightdifferencesareoftenfoundbetweenthetwodatasetsasaresultofdifferencesinthetimingofrequiredreportingandrevisions(FAO2002b).Recordsshowasteadyandrapidincreaseinwahoolandingsfromaround400mtinthemidtolate1970stoanmeanof1,854mtoverthelastthreeyearsforwhichtherearedata(1998-2000;Table2).However,atleastpartofthisincreaseislikelytorepresentanincreaseinreportingtoICCAT,ratherthananactualincreaseinlandings.Forexample,wahoolandingsareshownfromGrenadaonlysince1978,Barbadossince1979,USAsince1985,St.Vincentsince1988,DominicaandSt.Luciasince1990,andTrinidadandTobagosince1991,althoughthefisheriesinmostofthesecountrieshavebeentakingwahooformuchlongerperiodsoftime.Wahoocatchesarealmostcer-tainlyunderreportedacrosstheWCA.Manycountriesknowntobetakingwahoo,evenifonlyinrelativelysmallquantities,arenotlistedintheICCAT(norFAO)datarecords,whileothershavelandingsthatareunderre-ported(e.g.,landingsforUSGulfofMexicoandAtlanticcoastsfor1984-1992arefarhigherthanreportedintheICCATdatabase(seeTables2and3).Oneproblemisthatwahooareaggregatedwithkingmackerel
(Scomberomoruscavalla)
innationallandingsdataofseveralcountries(e.g.,Hunte1987,Mahon1993)andcannot,therefore,bedisaggregatedintoseparatespeciesintheICCATandFAOdatabases.Furthermore,statisticsreportedinthedatabasesarebiasedbyacountry's'capacityandwillingnesstoaccuratelycollect,process,andreportfisheriesdata(FAO2002a).Althoughrecre-ationalcatchesarelikelytobequitesubstantialandoftengreatlyexceedcommerciallandings(e.g.,intheUSGulf,southAtlantic,andmid-Atlanticstates:Goodyear1999citedinSAFMC2000;intheUSVirginIslands:Brandon1987),theyfrequentlygounreportedinthisregion(e.g.,Franksetal.2000,LuckhurstandTrott2000).Garberetal.(2001)notewithconcernthatincreasedrecreationalfishingintheUSandCaribbeanwatersisputtingaddi-tionalharvestpressureonthisspecies.
.~
"
WahoolandingshaveshownaslowbutsteadyincreaseinmanysoutheasternCaribbeancountriesfromthe1970sthroughthe1980s(Mahon1996),andparticu-larlyinSt.Luciafromthemid1990s(Georgeetal.2001).Thisreflectsanincreaseinthenumberandfishingpowerofvesselsandfishers(Georgeetal.2001).TheUSNationalMarineFisheriesService(NMFS)records(1984-1997)reportedbyGoodyear(1999citedinSAFMC2000)indicatethatwahooland-ingsintheUSGulfofMexicohaveincreasedconsider-ablysincethemid1980s,butshowmarkedinter-annualvariation(Table3).TheserecordsalsoindicateagradualincreaseinthecommercialandrecreationallandingsofwahoofortheUSsouthAtlanticstates(withtheexcep-tionofananomalouslyhighyearfortherecreationalfisheryin1986)(Table3).
In
Bermuda,landingsofwahoohaveincreasedsteadilyoverthe24year(1975-1997)time-series,reflectinganincreaseinpelagicfishingeffortandimprovementstogearandfishingtechniquesoverthistimeperiod(LuckhurstandTrott2000).
MOVEMENTSANDMIGRAnON
LittleisknownaboutthemovementsormigrationpatternsofwahoointheWCA,althoughitisgenerallyagreed(basedonseasonalityoflandingsbycommercialandrecreationalfisheries)thattheymoveseasonally,extendingintocoolerwatersinthewarmermonths,andaremigratorywithinandbeyondtheExclusiveEco-nomicZones(EEZs)ofcountrieswithintheWCAregion.Wahoocongregateinthevicinityofdriftingobjectsincluding
sargassum
(e.g.,NMFS1997),andfishershavelearnedtorelyheavilyonthesenaturalmovingfishattractingdevices(FADs)tocatchwahooandotherlargepelagics(e.g.,Taquet1998,Gomesetal.1998,Georgeetal.2001).WahooarealsocaughtaroundanchoredFADsoffMartiniqueandGuadeloupe(Lauransetal.1999,Reynaletal.1999).Thereareafewon-goingconventionaltaggingprogramsforwahoointheWCA.ACFRAMPtaggingprogramforlargepelagicspeciescommencedin1996(Singh-Renton2001).Todate,atotalof249wahoohavebeentaggedinsoutheasternCaribbeanwaters,butnorecaptureshavebeenreported(Singh-Renton,pers.comm.).
In
Bermuda,awahootaggingprogramcom-mencedin1998(Nashetal.2002).Todate,only15wahoohavebeentaggedandreleased.Asinglewahoorecaptured10monthslater,64kmawayfromthepointofrelease,mayhaveremainedinBermudawatersduringitslibertyorreturnedthereafteraseasonal
..35

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