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Southern hake, Merluccius australis. (Photo: Mazu)

Breeding areas for southern hake under study

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Tuesday, January 07, 2014, 03:10 (GMT + 9)

The Fisheries Development Institute (IFOP) and i-Mar Centre of Los Lagos University have started a new research project on southern hake breeding areas.

The initiative, which will run for four years, is co-sponsored by the University of Los Lagos and the FDI and financed by the National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development (FONDECYT).

The project, entitled Diversity of life-histories, connectivity and variability in the relative contribution of estuarine and coastal habitats to the SE Pacific population of Southern hake Merluccius australis is led by Edwin Niklitschek, from University of Lagos.

This scientific initiative will have the collaboration of the Fisheries Research Division of the IFOP through its departments of Technical Specialties, Fisheries Assessment and Direct Assessment.

The project seeks to increase the knowledge available about the use of nursery habitats, life cycle and migratory behaviour of this species in coastal waters of south- southern area. It also aims to assess whether overfishing and environmental changes observed during the last decades have caused changes in the use of different breeding habitats and their contribution to stock recruitment.

The initiative will use a set of advanced "geo -location" techniques based on natural markers (stable isotopes and metals) present in bone and muscle tissue, whose systematic validation will take up the first two years of the project. The focus in the next two years will fall on applying the techniques to answer questions.

In addition to the participation of experts from the IFOP in the project, the institute will contribute with information and oceanographic and biological fishery samples to be obtained through the monitoring programs of various fisheries and scientific research cruises that will be carried out by the IFOP between 2014 and 2017 in the area of study. This includes both the coastal ocean and inland waters of the south- southern area where the greatest abundance of juveniles in commercial catches is.

The access to samples of the historic collection of otoliths from the IFOP will be of particular value for the project, which will reconstruct the environmental history of the species in recent decades.



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