Journal Article

Age estimation, growth and maturity of the European hake (<i>Merluccius merluccius</i> (Linnaeus, 1758)) from Iberian Atlantic waters

C Piñeiro and M Saínza

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 60, issue 5, pages 1086-1102
Published in print January 2003 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2003 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
Age estimation, growth and maturity of the European hake (Merluccius merluccius (Linnaeus, 1758)) from Iberian Atlantic waters

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  • Environmental Science
  • Marine and Estuarine Biology


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Difficulties in age estimation for hake (Merluccius merluccius) have hampered the assessment of stocks. Here, we describe new, agreed ageing criteria based on the interpretation of the pattern of otolith growth. Improved estimates of von Bertalanffy growth parameters, and new estimates of maturity ogive parameters and length–weight relationships for European hake from Iberian Atlantic waters are presented. The results came from a study carried out during 1996–1997 and provide the first published account of the main life history traits of Southern stock hake. von Bertalanffy growth parameters of males were L = 70cm, K = 0.18 year−1, and t0=−0.97 year, and those of females were L = 89cm, K = 0.13 year−1, and t0 = −1.15 year. Growth of sexes differed from age 3 onwards, with females being on average larger and heavier than males. The estimated total length (L, cm)–total weight (W, g) relationships were W=0.0132135L2.8134246 for males and W=0.0086471L2.942563 for females. Spawning took place from December to May with a peak in February. The mean length and age at first maturity were 32.8 cm at 2.5 years for males and 45 cm at 4.4 years for females.

Application of new ageing criteria showed that otolith sections may be used to determine ages up to 5 years in a consistent manner. These results indicate that hake of the Southern stock grow at higher rates and mature earlier than previously considered. Summaries of hake's life history parameters from other marine regions are also presented in order to make information that belongs largely to the grey literature available.

Keywords: age-at-maturity; growth; Iberian Atlantic waters; length-at-age; Merluccius merluccius; reproduction; southern stock; von Bertalanffy parameters

Journal Article.  8518 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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