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Estimating rates of mortality in stocks of Metapenaeus macleayi in estuaries of eastern Australia

Montgomery, S.S., Barchia, I.M., Walsh, C.T.
Fisheries research 2012 v.113 no.1 pp. 55-67
Metapenaeus macleayi, estuaries, fisheries, lakes, meta-analysis, models, mortality, netting, rivers, seafoods, shrimp, Australia
Estimating rates of mortality is important for assessing stocks and for effectively managing seafood resources. This study reports the first estimates of rates of instantaneous fishing mortality (F) and natural mortality (M) for the commercially important school prawn, Metapenaeus macleayi. Replicated tag-recapture experiments were conducted on two stocks (Clarence River and Wallis Lake) to estimate the catchability coefficient (q) and F, whilst M was estimated from meta-analyses. Experiments were conducted across spatial and temporal scales to consider variability between stocks and variability between fisheries targeting this resource. The catchability coefficient was fitted to tag-recapture data in a population model across a range of M values (0.001–0.025 per day) and average daily F values were calculated. Values of q ranged between 2.03E−04 and 5.43E−02 and, 1.29E−04 and 3.41E−03 for the Clarence River and Wallis Lake stocks, respectively. Average daily F ranged between 2.86E−03 and 1.69 for the Clarence stock and 1.71E−03 and 3.44E−02 for the Wallis stock. With one exception (the November 2004 experiment) there were no differences in q and F values between experiments conducted on the Wallis Lake stock. For the Clarence stock values of q and F varied between years and within years. Factors thought to contribute to this variability were changes in prawn behaviour, differences in sizes of prawns tagged between experiments and differences in the survival of tagged prawns. The catchability coefficient for the Clarence River stock was weakly correlated to greater rates of river discharge. Estimates of F for the Wallis stock, the Clarence stock in 2004–05 and estimates of M were comparable to those reported for other penaeid fisheries world wide. There was no consistent pattern in comparisons of q and F values between the predominantly trawling operation of the Clarence River fishery and the seine netting of the fishery in Wallis Lake.