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Khoufi W.,INSTM National Institute of science and Marine Technologies | Ferreri R.,CNR Institute for Coastal Marine Environment | Jaziri H.,INSTM National Institute of science and Marine Technologies | El Fehri S.,INSTM National Institute of science and Marine Technologies | And 9 more authors.
Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom | Year: 2014

Merluccius merluccius is an economically and ecologically important demersal species inhabiting the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea; however, reproductive knowledge about this species, along the North African coast is still missing. Monthly samples were collected from November 2010 to October 2011 along the North Tunisian coast. Morphometric parameters were measured, and histological preparations of gonadic tissues provided detailed information on the reproductive biology. Ovary maturity data showed a protracted spawning season throughout the year, with peaks in January, April and August. In females of M. merluccius, seasonal variability in weight and length were noticed, with higher values in the first part of the study period (November-April) than from May to October. Analysing separately these two periods, significant relationships were observed between gonadic maturation indices and the somatic and gonadic indices, suggesting a seasonal differential use of energy intake. From November to May the fish alternate the use of their energy for body growth and reserves for later uses (i.e fat, muscle and liver mass) or for gonadic growth. From June to October the energy is converted mainly into gonad weight and less to somatic growth. The maturity ogives obtained by macroscopic and histological maturity staging methods showed significant differences; however, in both cases the length at first maturity estimates were around 29Â cm. Nonetheless, when selecting the main spawning period, the L 50 estimation was heavily reduced to 24Â cm, suggesting careful attention in the selection of the samples to be used specially for fishery management purposes. © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 2014.

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