Management of the linefish resource in Southern Mozambique : a case study for Marreco (Chrysoblephus puniceus).
Lichucha, Ivone Delfina Lourenco Tivane.
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This study provides information on the biology, stock status and the management of C. puniceus, a key linefish resource in southern Mozambique. This is regionally endemic to Mozambique and KwaZulu-Natal. Fairly resident species, is found on the continental shelf ranging north to Zavora and south to KwaZulu-Natal and Transkei, and inhabits rocky seabeds, ranging between 20 and l00m. In Mozambique is manly exploited by semi-industrial fleet, and exported to South Africa. The reproductive biology, assessed through gonad somatic index as well as microscopic and macroscopic assessment, indicates that spawning extends over the spring months from August to November, peaking in September. It is a protogynous hermaphrodite, relatively slow growing and long lived species. The length-weight relationships for male and female C. puniceus show to be different, and the overall length frequency distribution shows clear difference in size between male and female C. puniceus, with male length frequency distribution restricted to the larger size classes. The monthly length frequency distribution of female C. puniceus is unimodal and peak at 300 mm FL, male shows unclear year classes. Age determination was carried out using otoliths and growth was estimated using the model developed by Punt et al (1993) for protogynous hermaphrodites reproductive styles. Validation of annuli was done by examining the outer margin of otolith, and also through mark and recapture information. Validation following the first method indicated that the opaque band is laid down twice a year, but the mark recapture results were inconsistent. This contradicts previously published information on C. puniceus, and thus; both single and double scenarios were modelled. The Von Bertalanffy growth parameters found for C. puniceus suggest relatively slow-growth, with the number of rings found from reading the sectioned otolith ranging from 2 to 18. Reproducibility of age estimates was evaluated using the average percentage error (APE) technique, and was equal to 22%. The age at full recruitment was found to be 2.5 and 5 years for bi-annual and annual banding, respectively. The analysis of the age-at-50% maturity, based on double band scenario, suggests that C. puniceus mature at 1.5 year-old, which corresponds to a mean FL of 240mm. A preliminary yield per recruit assessment revealed that at the current fishing mortality, C. puniceus fishery is moderately overfished, with the spawning biomass-per-recruit at 35.43% and 36.57%, for one and two bands, respectively, of its unexploited level. Fishing mortality was equal to 0.2 year-1 and 0.41 year-1, for single and double band, respectively. YPR analysis shows that the single band scenario is less conservative than the double band assessment, which has a bearing on the management approach. It is suggested as the preliminary management strategy a reduction of the number of boats. Indeed the average number of crew per boat, needs to be evaluated in terms of overall effort. To complement this management measures, there is a strong and urgent need to establish marine reserves in order to protect spawning stock, and also, to develop an overall linefish management plan, which will help in the management of the whole linefish resource in Mozambique. Furthermore, an age and growth study for C. puniceus over a larger geographical area needs to be done as a mean to overcome the differences between previous study and this study, once C. puniceus is being shared between the two countries (Mozambique and KwaZulu-Natal).