Stock structure of blue threadfin Eleutheronema tetradactylum across northern Australia as inferred from stable isotopes in sagittal otolith carbonate
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Stable isotopes of d18O and d13C in sagittal otolith carbonates were used to determine the stock structure of the polynemid Eleutheronema tetradactylum (Shaw) across tropical northern Australia, where this species is an important component of inshore commercial and recreational fisheries. Stable isotopes from the sagittal otolith carbonate of 470 fish from 11 discrete locations across western, northern and eastern Australia were sampled between 2007 and 2009. Analysis of these stable isotopes revealed different location-specific signatures, indicating strong population subdivision. The significant differences in the isotopic signatures of E. tetradactylum demonstrated that there is unlikely to be substantial movement of fish between these locations. The spatial separation of these populations indicates a complex fine spatial scale stock structure across northern Australia, with at least 11 stocks or management units present. The population subdivision of E. tetradactylum was evident along expansive stretches of open beach systems and within coastal embayments with no physical barriers such as headlands. These results indicate that optimal fisheries management will require a review of the current spatial arrangements, particularly the potential for localised depletion of stocks on small spatial scales. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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