Original Articles

Dynamics of the pelagic component of Namibian hake stocks


Abstract

A study was undertaken to investigate the spatial, diurnal and interannual dynamics of the pelagic component of Namibian hake stocks. Data were derived from trawl surveys conducted on board the R.V. Dr Fridtjof Nansen during the period 1991–1999. In addition to trawl surveys, acoustic methods were applied concurrently to quantify fish biomass off the bottom (above the headline). The pelagic component of hake was variable in both time and space – it was denser in the north and at depths of 200–500 m. Pelagic densities also correlated well with the density of adult fish (≥30 cm) at the bottom, but not with that of young hake (>18 and <30 cm) at the bottom. Pelagic densities were lowest at midday and highest at night, early morning and late afternoon densities being intermediate between the two. Incorporation of acoustic methods allows for at least partial account to be taken of diurnal variation in determining catchability. The fraction of the biomass off the bottom was not the same each year, thus affecting assessment and management advice for the stock, even if the survey results are treated only as relative indices of abundance. More field studies are needed to investigate the size range and species of hake active in vertical migration.

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