The taxonomy and life-history of Argyrosomus japonicus and A. inodorus, two important sciaenids off the South African coast

Griffiths, Marc Hastings (1995) The taxonomy and life-history of Argyrosomus japonicus and A. inodorus, two important sciaenids off the South African coast. PhD thesis, Rhodes University.

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A study of the biology, anatomy and taxonomy of the sciaenid fishes of the genus Argyrosomus from South Africa and Namibia revealed that three species were confused under the name "Argyrosomus Izololepidotus (Lacepede 1801)". Comparison of morphometric and meristic data, otoliths, swim-bladders, drumming muscles, and other morphological features of specimens from southern Africa, Madagascar, the Mediterranean, the eastern Atlantic Ocean, Japan and Australia, revealed that "A hololepidotus" is a complex of four species: A japonicus (Temminck & Schlegel 1843), which occurs off southern Africa, Japan and Australia; A. inodorus sp. nov., which is known from Namibia to the Kei River (32°40'S) on the east coast of South Africa; A coronus sp. nov., which is known from central and northern Namibia and Angola, and A. hololepidotus, which appears to be endemic to Madagascar. Both A japonicus and A. inodorus are important recreational and commercial linefish species in South Africa. Although A inodorus occurs on the east and west coasts of South Africa, and A. japonicus is found between Cape Point and Mozambique, the former species is abundant only between Cape Point and the Kei River, and the latter species from Cape Agulhas to northern KwaZulu/Natal. The life-histories of Argyrosomus japonicus and A. inodorus, within these respective ranges, were elucidated using length-at-age, reproductive, catch and effort, size composition, otolith dimension/fish length and tagging data. Median sizes at maturity (LSD) for A. japonicus were 920 mm TL (5 years) for males and 1070 mm TL (6 years) for females. All males >1100 mm TL (7 years) and all females >1200 mm TL (8 years) were mature. Females grew faster than males, but in both sexes growth slowed dramatically after maturity. Maximum age recorded was 42 years, but fish older than 27 years were rare. Adult A. japonicus were predominantly found in the nearshore marine environment, but also occurred in estuaries and in the surf zone. Spawning takes place in the nearshore environment, from August to November in Natal, and from October to January in the Southern and South-Eastern Cape regions. A large proportion of the adult population migrate to Natal to spawn, although spawning may continue once they return to the Cape. Early juveniles of 20-30 mm TL recruit into turbid estuaries along the entire east coast, possibly aided by olfactory cues. They appear to remain in the upper reaches of the estuaries where they find suitable food and refuge from predators until they grow to about 150 mm TL. Juveniles larger than this size were found in the middle and lower reaches of estuaries and also in the surf zone. Juvenile A. japonicus « 1000 mm TL) generally did not migrate long distances, but remained as separate sub-stocks until they reached maturity. A. inodorus grows more slowly than A. japonicus, and attains a lower maximum age (25 years) and a smaller maximum size (34 vs 75 kg). There was no significant difference between the growth rates of male and female A. inodorus. Those in the South-Westem Cape initially grew faster than those on the east coast, but growth slowed sooner in the former region with the result that these fish attained a smaller maximum size. Although ripe A. inodorus were sampled throughout the year, there was a distinct spawning season from August to December, with a peak in spring (Sept-Nov). Spawning occurred throughout the study area for this species, in <50 m depth. Size at sexual maturity for A inodorus was smaller in the South-Eastern Cape than in the Southern Cape. Median size at maturity for females was attained at 310 mm TL (1.3 years) in the former and at 375 mm TL (2.4 years) in the latter region, and the length at which all females were mature was 400 mm (3.5 years) and 550 mm (4.7 years) respectively. For males the estimates of Lso and total maturity were 200 mm (1 year) and 400 mm (2.8 years) for the SouthEastern Cape and 250 mm (1.5 years) and 450 mm (3.4 years) in the Southern Cape. East of Cape Agulhas, A. inodorus was found from just beyond the surf zone to depths of 120 m. Adults occurred predominantly on reef (>20 m) while juveniles were found mainly over soft substrata of sand/mud (5-120 m depth). Early juveniles do not enter estuaries, but apparently recruit to nursery areas immediately beyond the backline of breakers (5-10 m depth), and then move seawards with growth. No juveniles were obtained from the area west of Cape Agulhas as substrates <200 m depth were unsuitable for trawling. Due to lower water temperatures, the adults in this area were found from within the surf zone to depths of only 20 m. East and west of Cape Agulhas there was evidence of offshore dispersal in winter, in response to oceanographic changes. Based upon otolith morphology, juvenile and adult distribution patterns, sizes at sexual maturity and on tagging data, A inodorus between Cape Point and the Kei River apparently exist as three separate stocks, one in the South-Eastern Cape, one in the Southern Cape and one in the South-Western Cape, with limited exchange. The life-histories of A japonicus and A. inodorus are discussed in terms of their management. The large size at maturity of A. japonicus together with evidence for considerable human impact on the early juvenile, juvenile, and the adult phases of the life-cycle indicate that estuarine nursery habitats need to be conserved, that the minimum size limit should be increased, and that current bag limits for this species should be reviewed. Although the current minimum size limit provides protection for A. illodorus until maturity, evidence is presented which indicates that at least one and possibly all of the stocks of this species are currently over-exploited. Stock assessment of the South African A japonicus and A inodorus resources, and the implementation of effective management strategies, are therefore a matter of urgency.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Argyrosomus japonicus, Sciaenidae, South Africa, Namibia.
Subjects:Q Science > QL Zoology > Chordates. Vertebrates > Fishes
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Ichthyology & Fisheries Science
Supervisors:Hecht, Tom
ID Code:3293
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:05 Sep 2012 07:36
Last Modified:05 Sep 2012 07:36
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