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Research article2006Peer reviewedOpen access

Histological analysis invalidates macroscopically determined maturity ogives of the Kattegat cod (Gadus morhua) and suggests new proxies for estimating maturity status of individual fish

Vitale, Francesca; Svedäng, Henrik; Cardinale, Massimiliano


Assessment and management of fish populations currently rely on correct estimation of the spawning-stock biomass (SSB), which is based on accurate maturity ogives of the population. Although maturity ogives are usually calculated through macroscopic evaluation of the gonads, histology is generally considered to be more accurate. Here we show that the macroscopic analysis consistently overestimates the proportion of mature females for all age classes in Kattegat cod. The resulting bias showed minimum values for all age classes about a month before the spawning season. Consequently, estimation of the incidence of maturation in females several months before or after the spawning season can only be accurate using histological techniques. Further, the observed bias was used to reconstruct a historical data set of maturity ogives of Kattegat cod. The results showed that female spawning biomass (FSB) might have been overestimated by up to 35%. However, as histological analysis is considered a laborious procedure, proxies of maturity status were sought. It was indicated that the gonadosomatic and hepatosomatic indices may serve as robust proxies for discriminating mature females from immature, thus greatly enhancing the accuracy of the macroscopic maturity evaluation of cod gonads when histological analysis is lacking. (c) 2005 International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


GSI; HSI; Kattegat cod; maturity ogives; SSB; stock assessment; tree model

Published in

ICES Journal of Marine Science
2006, Volume: 63, number: 3, pages: 485-492

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