TEMPORAL VARIATION IN THE RED GROUPER, <i>EPINEPHELUS MORIO</i>, DEMOGRAPHIC STRUCTURE FROM SOUTHERN GULF OF MEXICO
Changes in the demographic structure of red grouper Epinephelus morio from the southern part of the Gulf of Mexico, were evaluated during periods when total catches, CPUE and annual yields of the specie decreased. Fishery-dependent samples (n = 1887) were obtained between August 1989 and February 2004 from the Campeche Bank, and size-frequency distributions by sex, sex ratios and sizes of sexual maturation and sex change were compared between three periods: P11989-1992 (n = 886); P21996-1998 (n = 413); and P32003-2004 (n = 588). The temporal stability of size-frequency distribution by sex, with males always being larger than females, and the sex ratios always biased towards females, were consistent with this species’ type of sexuality. Size for females and males, as well as sizes at first sexual maturity and at sex reversal all decreased from the oldest period to the more recent one and could be a consequence of the fishing intensity applied to this stock. The reductions in size of females and males associated with a relatively stable sex ratio and the lack of any drastic decrease in the number of males can be explained by this species’ reproductive ecology. Results are discussed regarding the capacity for reproductive resilience of red grouper in response to fishing pressure like that currently experienced by the Campeche Bank stock.
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