Integrating different approaches in the definition of biological stocks: A northern Australian multi-jurisdictional fisheries example using grey mackerel, Scomberomorus semifasciatus
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A holistic approach to stock structure studies utilises multiple different techniques on the same individuals sampled from selected populations and combines results across spatial and temporal scales to produce a weight of evidence conclusion. It is the most powerful and reliable source of information to use in formulating resource management and monitoring plans. Few examples of the use of a holistic approach in stock structure studies exist, although more recently this is changing. Using such an approach makes integration of results from each technique challenging. An integrated stock definition (ISD) approach for holistic stock structure studies was developed in this study to aid in the appropriate interpretation of stock structure results to guide the determination of fishery management units. The ISD approach is applied herein to a study of the northern Australian endemic grey mackerel, Scomberomorus semifasciatus (Scombridae). Analyses of genetic (mitochondrial DNA and microsatellites), parasite, otolith stable isotope, and growth data are synthesised to determine the stock structure of S. semifasciatus across northern Australia. Integration of the results from all techniques identified at least six S. semifasciatus stocks for management purposes. Further, the use of the ISD approach provided a simple basis for integrating multiple techniques and for their interpretation. The use of this holistic approach was a powerful tool in providing greater certainty about the appropriate management units for S. semifasciatus. Future stock structure studies investigating spatial management questions in the fisheries context should adopt a holistic approach and apply the ISD approach for a more accurate definition of biological stocks to improve fisheries management.
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