Journal Article

Evaluation of average length as an estimator of exploitation status for the Florida coral-reef fish community

Jerald S. Ault, Steven G. Smith and James A. Bohnsack

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 62, issue 3, pages 417-423
Published in print January 2005 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2005 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.icesjms.2004.12.001
Evaluation of average length as an estimator of exploitation status for the Florida coral-reef fish community

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Simulation and empirical analyses were conducted to evaluate the utility and robustness of average length (Lbar) of animals in the exploited population as an estimator of fishing mortality (F), and therefore as an indicator of exploitation status for Florida coral-reef fish. Simulation results showed that the Lbar estimator of fishing mortality was relatively insensitive to trends in recruitment, and demonstrated favourable properties for detecting statistical differences between sustainable and non-sustainable rates of exploitation. Rates of F estimated from fishery-dependent size composition data were comparable to F estimates from catch-and-effort time-series. Average length was also estimated from fishery-independent diver surveys for 22 species in the exploited snapper–grouper complex. A majority of snapper–grouper species are currently fished unsustainably in the Florida Keys, though overfishing appears most severe for long-lived, slow-growing fish.

Keywords: average size; coral-reef fish; exploitation; Florida Keys

Journal Article.  3135 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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