Alternate Title

The Biology of Wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri) in the Western Central Atlantic

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This contribution summarizes aspects of the biology of the wahoo, Acanthocybium solandri (Scombridae), that are pertinent to assessment and management of this species in the western central Atlantic (WCA). In this region wahoo is a target species for both commercial and recreational fisheries, and annual landings appear to have increased steadily over the last 30 years to in excess of 2000 mt. Wahoo is believed to be migratory, but little is known of the migration patterns. Significant seasonal variation in catches within the region indicates that it is seasonally abundant in most locations. Periods of peak abundance occur from the fall through spring in the southeastern and northern Caribbean islands, and are restricted to the warmer months (late spring through early fall) in the more northerly locations (northern Gulf of Mexico, North Carolina, and Bermuda). Wahoo exhibits early sexual maturity (within the first year) and a spawning season that extends from at least May to October. Females are multiple batch spawners and are highly fecund. Limited age and growth studies indicate that it is a relatively fast-growing species, has high mortality, and probably lives for 5-6 years. Wahoo is primarily piscivorous, although some invertebrates including squids are eaten. A relatively small number of parasite species have been associated with it. There is no evidence of more than a single shared stock of wahoo in the WCA, and recent genetic studies, using RAPD markers, suggest that stock boundaries may extend beyond this region. The status of the wahoo resource in the WCA remains unclear. Reliable wahoo catch and fishing effort data from the entire WCA, improved knowledge of migration patterns, reproductive characteristics and critical habitat (e.g., preferred spawning areas), validation of age, growth and mortality estimates, and a more comprehensive analysis of stock structure for the entire Atlantic are needed for informed wahoo stock assessment and management.

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