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Efficacy of restocking an estuarine-resident species demonstrated by long-term monitoring of cultured fish with alizarin complexone-stained otoliths. A case study

Cottingham, A.ORCID: 0000-0002-4157-1972, Hall, N.G., Loneragan, N.R., Jenkins, G.I. and Potter, I.C. (2020) Efficacy of restocking an estuarine-resident species demonstrated by long-term monitoring of cultured fish with alizarin complexone-stained otoliths. A case study. Fisheries Research, 227 . Art. 105556.

Link to Published Version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fishres.2020.105556
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Abstract

Long-term monitoring data and models have been used to explore the efficacy of restocking an estuarine-resident teleost species. Juveniles of Acanthopagrus butcheri were cultured from broodstock from the Blackwood River Estuary in 2002 and their otoliths stained with alizarin complexone. 150,000 marked juveniles were released into the Blackwood River Estuary at three months old in early 2003, with the stain in their otoliths subsequently remaining visible during the following 16 years. Samples of A. butcheri were obtained annually from a commercial gill net fisher and at intervals by fishery-independent methods. Commercial catch per unit effort was positively related to freshwater discharge. Indices of year class strength, derived from annual age-frequency distributions and assuming length-dependent natural mortality, demonstrate that between 1993 and 2012, natural recruitment to the population was only strong in 1999 and 2008 and was not significantly related to freshwater flow. The number of wild stock A. butcheri ≥ minimum legal length (250 mm total length), comprising mainly the 1999 year class, were estimated to have declined sequentially to only ∼12,000 fish in 2010. The restocked fish contributed between 61 and 73 % to the total number of fish in the commercial catches between 2007 and 2010 and their numbers remained at > 10 % of their number at release until 2011. The contribution of the 2008 year class, of which ∼50 % had been estimated as derived from restocked fish, increased from 20 % of the commercial catch in 2012 to between 50 and 80 % between 2013 and 2018. A progressive decline in growth of year-class groups of wild stock fish, from 1970-1998 to 2008-2011, is considered to reflect the detrimental effects of hypoxia. Restocked fish grew less rapidly than younger and older year-class groups of wild stock fish, suggesting that the growth of cultured fish may have been compromised by hatchery processes. The large contributions made by restocked fish to commercial catches over several years and to future generations highlight the efficacy of restocking for replenishing and sustaining a depleted population of an estuarine-resident species.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Ecosystems
Harry Butler Institute
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: © 2020 Published by Elsevier B.V.
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/55265
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