The ocean leatherjacket (Nelusetta ayraudi) is one of the largest members of the family Monacanthidae. Distributed throughout inshore waters around the southern half of Australia, this schooling species supports substantial commercial and recreational fisheries. N. ayraudi do not conform to either of the general reproductive modes reported within the family, but exhibit characteristics of both strong social reproductive behaviour and of being promiscuous and polygynous. Sexual dimorphism, with males and females exhibiting differing colouration and body shapes, and ripe ovaries being an order of magnitude larger than ripe testes, are characteristic of social reproductive behaviour and pair spawning. In contrast, high batch fecundity (mean of 320 oocytes per gram of body weight), similar sizes and ages at sexual maturity (350 mm and 2.5 years respectively) and the formation of large spawning aggregations in offshore waters are characteristic of being promiscuous and polygynous. Similar to many other coastal marine species off the east and west coasts of Australia, N. ayraudi are partial spawners during the austral winter months with spawning restricted to the part of their distribution that is towards the upper area of the prevailing currents. It is hypothesized that N. ayraudi off eastern Australia have evolved a life-history strategy whereby fish move northwards through time, spawning occurs in these more northern waters and the southerly flowing Eastern Australian Current facilitates dispersal of eggs and larvae southwards. The reproductive characteristics described provide various options to fishery managers who wish to enhance the sustainability of the fishery through increased egg production. These include spatial and temporal fishing closures to protect breeding fish during the spawning period, the protection of juveniles through either inshore area closures, improving the selectivity of fishing gears and/or regulated minimum legal lengths.
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 17, 2012
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