Stock-Recruitment-Environment Relationship in a Portunus pelagicus Fishery in Western Australia

Stock-Recruitment-Environment Relationship in a Portunus pelagicus Fishery in Western Australia

S. de Lestang, L.M. Bellchambers, N. Caputi, A.W. Thomson, M.B. Pember, D.J. Johnston, and D.C. Harris

Stock-Recruitment-Environment Relationship in a Portunus pelagicus Fishery in Western AustraliaThis is part of Biology and Management of Exploited Crab Populations under Climate Change
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Description

Blue swimmer crab (Portunus pelagicus) fisheries in Western Australia have generally been considered robust to recruitment overfishing, as the minimum legal size for retention of these crabs in both the commercial and recreational crab fisheries are set well above the size at sexual maturity allowing crabs to spawn at least once before entering the fishery. However, the Cockburn Sound crab stock suffered a recruitment collapse, with three key factors: (a) the fishery is near the edge of this species distribution and hence vulnerable to environmental fluctuations; (b) a number of consecutive years of poor environmental conditions resulted in poor recruitments; and (c) high fishing pressure continued on these low recruitments. This study indicates that water temperatures at the start of the spawning season positively influence the strong stock-recruitment relationship for P. pelagicus in Cockburn Sound. Apparently, warm water temperatures at the onset of spawning result in the larger females producing additional broods of eggs, and therefore a far greater number of larvae over the short spawning season. This relationship produces catch predictions for this fishery a year ahead and provides information for the development of biological reference points for management.

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