Spawning Striped Bass: Oldies But Goodies

There’s been some great science coming out about fish lately.  The findings are eye opening because scientific studies have shown us that bigger, older, and fatter female fish are better reproducers. A recent study in the journal Science supports this theory, finding that larger females produce disproportionately more eggs.  Scientists have even come up with an acronym for these fish.  Affectionately known as BOFFFF, for Big Old Fat Fecund Female Fish, these fish are getting harvested at an alarming rate. In fact, in 31% to 42% of fish populations, the magnitude of decline in BOFFFFs is over 90%.

The Washington Post article about the study notes, “The authors of the new research say it contains an important message for the fishing industry. ‘Most classic fisheries models don’t account for the massively disproportionate contribution that larger fish make, yet these are the first individuals to disappear under even a moderate fishing pressure,’ Barneche and Marshall wrote in a joint email. ‘So, fisheries scientists, despite the best of intentions, have been using models that inadvertently recommend overharvesting [emphasis added].’”

The research included 394 species.  In the case of vermillion snapper, a small female will lay 4,000 eggs.  A large female will lay millions.  It is the same with cod.  The scientists found that one large cod will lay 28x the eggs of a female that just reached sexual maturity.  But the story goes even further.  As the BOFFFF grows, the ovaries grow disproportionately larger.  This not only makes more eggs per pound of fish, but the eggs are also richer in fat and larger in size.  So, instead of 28 times more baby cod per BOFFF, the real number is about 37.

LINK (via: Fissues)

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