Assessment of cobia, Rachycentron canadum, in the waters of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico

Williams, Erik H. (2001) Assessment of cobia, Rachycentron canadum, in the waters of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Beaufort, NC, NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service/Southeast Fisheries Science Center, (NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SEFSC, 469)

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This assessment applies to cobia (Rachycentron canadum) located in the territorial waters of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Separation of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean is defined by the seaward extension of the Dade/Monroe county line in south Florida. Mixing of fish between the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico occurs in the Florida Keys during winter months. Cobia annually migrate north in early spring in the Gulf to spawning grounds in the northern Gulf of Mexico, returning to the Florida Keys by winter. Catches of cobia in the Gulf of Mexico are dominated by recreational landings, accounting for nearly 90% of the total. Since 1980, the landings of cobia in the recreational fishery have remained fairly stable at around 400-600 mt with a slight peak of 1,014 mt in 1997. The recreational fishery was estimated to have landed 471 mt in 2000. The landings from the commercial fishery have shown a steady increase from 45 mt in 1980 to a peak of 120 mt in 1994, followed by a decline to 62 mt in 2000. The previous assessment of cobia occurred in 1996 using a virtual population analysis (VPA) model. For this analysis a surplus-production model (ASPIC) and a forward-projecting, age-structured population model programmed in the AD Model Builder (ADMB) software were applied to cobia data from the Gulf of Mexico. The primary data consisted of four catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) indices derived from the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS) (1981-1999), Southeast region headboat survey (1986-1999), Texas creel survey (1983-1999), and shrimp bycatch estimates (1980-1999). Length samples were available from the commercial (1983-2000) and recreational (1981-2000) fisheries. The ASPIC model applied to the cobia data provided unsatisfactory results. The ADMB model fit described the observed length composition data and fishery landings fairly well based on graphical examination of model residuals. The CPUE indices indicated some disagreement for various years, but the model fit an overall increasing trend from 1992-1997 for the MRFSS, headboat, and Texas creel indices. The shrimp bycatch CPUE was treated as a recruitment index in the model. The fit to these data followed an upward trend in recruitment from 1988-1997, but did not fit the 1994-1997 data points very well. This was likely the result of conflicting information from other data sources. Natural mortality (M) for cobia is unknown. As a result, a range of values for M from 0.2-0.4, based on longevity and growth parameters, were selected for use in the age-structured model. The choice of natural mortality appears to greatly influence the perceived status of the population. Population status as measured by spawning stock biomass in the last year relative to the value at maximum sustainable yield (SSB2000/SSBMSY), spawning stock biomass in the last year relative to virgin spawning stock biomass (SSB2000/S0), and static spawning stock biomass per recruit (SSBR) all indicate the population is either depleted, near MSY, or well above MSY depending on the choice of M. The variance estimates for these benchmarks are very large and in most cases ranges from depleted to very healthy status. The only statement that can be made with any degree of certainty about cobia in the Gulf of Mexico is that the population has increased since the 1980s. (PDF contains 61 pages)

Item Type: Monograph or Serial Issue
Title: Assessment of cobia, Rachycentron canadum, in the waters of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico
Personal Creator/Author:
Williams, Erik
Series Name: NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SEFSC
Number: 469
Date: 2001
Publisher: NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service/Southeast Fisheries Science Center
Place of Publication: Beaufort, NC
Issuing Agency: United States National Marine Fisheries Service
Subjects: Management
Item ID: 2141
Depositing User: Patti M. Marraro
Date Deposited: 27 May 2009 19:31
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2011 19:32

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