Examination of redeye roundherring size and age data - towards developing a growth curve for the redeye stock assessment

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University of Cape Town

Redeye roundherring (Etrumeus whiteheadi) in South African waters is exploited by the pelagic purse seine fishery, which primarily targets anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) and sardine (Sardinops sagax). In spite of a relatively large adult biomass (averaging 1.3 million tons over the last 10 years), redeye catches have been low, averaging 50 000 tons per annum over the last 10 years. The redeye fishery is currently managed with an annual Precautionary Upper Catch Limit (PUCL) of 100 thousand tons. Furthermore, the Operational Management Procedure for sardine and anchovy (de Moor and Butterworth 2008) makes provision for some by-catch of adult sardine [3500 t] with redeye. Only once in the history of the fishery, has the industry managed to come close to this PUCL (92 thousand tons in 1997). In view of the under exploitation of the redeye resource and possibility of expanding the fishery, work has been directed at assessing the status of the redeye to support the management of the resource. Implicit in such an assessment is the requirement for information on the age and growth of the species.