SeanTracey_PhD_Thesis.pdf (7.76 MB)
Assessing the population dynamics and stock viability of striped trumpeter (Latris lineata) in a data limited situation
thesisposted on 2023-05-26, 04:11 authored by Sean TraceySean Tracey
Research into small-scale fisheries is often insufficient, resulting in limited data, because this type of fishery is inevitably constrained by financial considerations. This creates a challenge to provide adequate information to support sustainable management, particularly given the shift from single species management to more integrated spatial and multi-species management and, ultimately, to ecosystem based fisheries management (EBFM). Striped trumpeter (Latris lineata) is widely distributed around the temperate latitudes of the southern hemisphere. The species is iconic to Tasmania where it supports a small commercial fishery, and it is increasingly targeted by recreational fishers. This fish is common on most rocky reefs between 50 ‚Äö- 250 m around Tasmania. However, the historical data for striped trumpeter from Tasmania is patchy in time and space, reflecting opportunistic sampling over many years. Using striped trumpeter as an example of a small-scale data-limited fishery, this study applies a variety of techniques to describe key biological and ecological processes required for sustainable fisheries management. The study was divided into three themes. First, standard and novel analytical techniques were applied to evaluate data to provide key biological parameters required for single-species assessment. Second, stock structure was investigated on both local and global scales using molecular techniques and otolith morphometrics. Finally, recruitment processes were investigated based on otolith microchemistry and modelling of larval dispersal. Seasonal growth variability was observed over the first five years, with growth rates peaking approximately one month after the observed peak in sea surface temperature. The oldest fish in this study was 43 years. Lifetime growth was modelled using a modified twophase von Bertalanffy growth function, with the transition between growth phases linked to changes in physiological and life history traits, including offshore movement as fish approach maturity. Total mortality was estimated using catch curve analysis based on the standard and two-phase von Bertalanffy growth functions, and estimates of natural mortality were calculated using two empirical models, one based on longevity and the other based on the parameters L1 and k from both growth functions. The spawning season around Tasmania occurs in the austral spring, with peak spawning activity in September and October. Size at 50% maturity was estimated at 543 mm fork length (FL) for females (estimated age = 6.8 years) and 529 mm FL for males (estimated age = 6.2 years). Striped trumpeter is a multiple spawner with batch fecundity estimates ranging from 205,054 for a 2 kg fish (540 mm FL) to 2,351,029 for a 9.5 kg fish (800 mm FL). At the current minimum legal size limit of 450 mm total length (equivalent to approximately 425 mm FL), yield-per-recruit was estimated to be close to maximum, and spawning biomass-per-recruit (SPR) ranged from 35 ‚Äö- 52% of virgin stock, depending on the mortality estimates used. Otolith morphometrics, in particular elliptical Fourier analysis of otolith shape, indicated little to no connectivity between the striped trumpeter population of Tasmania and the St. Paul/ Amsterdam Island populations. A molecular assessment of mtDNA confirmed this finding. In addition, the DNA sequence analysis indicated that the New Zealand striped trumpeter population was genetically distinct from the Tasmanian and St. Paul/ Amsterdam Island populations. DNA sequence analysis also indicated that the population around Tasmania is a single population. The affinity of juvenile striped trumpeter to inshore reefs has been suggested from anecdotal fishing observations. Using otolith microchemistry the comparative contribution of juvenile striped trumpeter from shallow inshore habitats to the adult population was estimated. Juvenile striped trumpeter from a strong recruitment pulse (1993 cohort) were collected at age two from inshore reefs and as adults at age six from deeper offshore reefs around the coast of Tasmania. Natural variations were identified in the concentrations of lithium and strontium within the incremental structure of the observed otoliths. Discriminant analysis suggested that 70% of adults sampled originated from an inshore juvenile habitat, 13% were from deeper reefs and 17% could not be statistically allocated with confidence. An integrated bio-physical larval dispersal model was developed in an attempt to explain the high degree of inter-annual recruitment variability displayed by this species. The model utilised information developed through the course of this study on reproductive biology, ontogenic habitat preferences and stock structuring as well as additional information on striped trumpeter larval biology from aquaculture trials to generate realistic scenarios. While the model was unable to accurately predict observed interannual recruitment variability, it did provide insights to important source and settlement regions as well as the importance of the addition of biological components, such as: timing of spawning, growth and mortality. Through efficient data-mining, novel methods and technological advancements this study has provided robust scientific advice to support the management of the striped trumpeter fishery. Information has been collated to support traditional single-species management and also for developing spatial fisheries measures, leading to a more ecosystem based approach to fisheries management. Otoliths proved to be valuable in several areas, and small-scale fisheries would be advised to initiate otolith collections even though analysis may not be planned for some time. This study demonstrates how targeted research could be used in other small-scale data limited fisheries in a cost effective manner to provide information for sustainable management.
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