Indexed on: 16 Dec '10Published on: 16 Dec '10Published in: Journal of Fish Biology
Vertebral band formations were used to define age and growth in three Neotrygon species caught regularly as by-catch in prawn trawl fisheries in north-east Australia. Centrum edge and marginal increment ratio analyses were used to validate annual band formations. Age estimates ranged from 1 to 18 years, with the von Bertalanffy growth function considered to have the best fit to Neotrygon picta (males, W(D∞) = 271 mm, k = 0·12; females, W(D∞) = 360·5 mm, k = 0·08) and Neotrygon kuhlii (males, W(D∞) = 438·6 mm, k = 0·08; females, W(D∞) = 440·6 mm, k = 0·08) disc width (W(D))-at-age data. The Gompertz growth function had the best fit to Neotrygon annotata W(D)-at-age data (males, W(D∞) = 230·4 mm, k = 0·20; females, W(D∞) = 265·5 mm, k = 0·31). Age at sexual maturity ranged from 3 to 6 years, with N. picta having the smallest size at birth (100 mm W(D)), smallest W(D) at 50% maturity (W(D50): male, 172 mm, female, 180·7 mm) and lowest age at sexual maturity (3-4 years). This study helps redefine and improve the accuracy of fisheries-based risk assessments for these small species with relatively conservative life-history variables.