Alternate Title

Regional and Fishery-specific Patterns of Age and Growth of Yellowtail Snapper, Ocyurus chrysurus


We sampled yellowtail snapper, Ocyurus chrysurus, from commercial and recreational fisheries and fishery-independent surveys in the Atlantic Ocean off south Florida from 1980 through 2002. Specimens were collected primarily from two areas: Palm Beach and Monroe counties; collections were divided at 26° latitude into northern and southern populations. We collected sagittal otoliths and corresponding morphometric data from each population. Fork lengths (FL) ranged from 115 to 605 mm with a mean length of 312 mm. Yellowtail snapper were aged using sagittal otoliths with a high degree of precision [average percent error (APE) <1%]. Ages ranged from 1 to 17 years, with mean ages of 3.96 years for the commercial fishery, 3.33 years for the recreational fishery, and 3.00 years for fishery-independent surveys. Yellowtail snapper entered the commercial and recreational fisheries by age 2; both fisheries were dominated by 2 and 3 year olds. The commercial fishery indicated the influence of a strong 1994 year class; this was not apparent in the recreational and fishery-independent surveys possibly due to small sample size. The von Bertalanffy growth curve parameters for all years and fishing modes combined [Lt = 410(1 - e-0.27(t+2.03))] were similar to previously published estimates for yellowtail snapper. The instantaneous total mortality rate of yellowtail snapper for all years and fishing modes combined (Z = 0.49) was also similar to previously published estimates. The total mortality rate for the northern population, Z = 0.67, was greater than for the southern population, Z = 0.45. Weight-length relationships were significantly different between northern and southern populations (P < 0.001), and yellowtail snapper from the southern population were significantly larger and older than those from the northern population (P < 0.001). Size-at-age was significantly larger for the most common ages (1--4 years) in the northern population compared to the southern population (age 1, P = 0.002; age 2--4, P < 0.001 ). This may be due in part to differential fishing pressure; additional site-specific sampling is needed to elucidate the demographic differences between populations.