Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

Growth and demography of the Pacific Angle Shark (Squatina californica), based upon tag returns off California

GM Cailliet, HF Mollet, GG Pittenger, D Bedford and LJ Natanson

Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 43(5) 1313 - 1330
Published: 1992


Knowledge of the age, growth and demography of an organism can be quite useful for managing its fishery. However, for many elasmobranch species, no valid estimates of age, growth and therefore age-specific mortality and natality rates are available. Thus, even though the distribution, abundance, habits and reproduction of a population may be known, no reliable estimates of population growth are possible. As a result, detailed demographic analysis has been completed for only a few shark species (e.g. the California leopard shark, Triakis semlfasciata). All age-determination techniques attempted for the Pacific angel shark (Squatina californica) have met with difficulties. Recently, however, we have accumulated data on 69 tag-recaptures and have used this information to model a von Bertalanffy growth function (VBGF) to predict the growth of this commercially exploited shark species. We performed a demographic analysis of this species, which yielded a net reproductive rate (R0) of 2.25, a generation time (G) of 14.5 years, and an estimate of the instantaneous population growth coefficient (r) of 0.056 year-1, assuming that only natural mortality (M) was occurring, estimated to be 0.2 year-1. When reasonable estimates of fishing mortality (F) are included in the survivorship function, Ro and r are reduced considerably. Presently, Pacific angel sharks first enter the fishery at the same size and age at which they first reproduce. Until accurate estimates of M and Fare available, it would be prudent to set a size limit considerably above the size at first reproduction to protect the Pacific angel shark in California.

© CSIRO 1992

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