• batch spawning;
  • billfish;
  • Coral Sea Marine Reserve;
  • fecundity;
  • histology;
  • reproductive strategy

This study presents the first histology-based assessment of the reproductive dynamics of south-west Pacific striped marlin Kajikia audax. Maturity and reproductive status were assessed from histological sections of ovaries (n = 234) and testes (n = 243) of fish caught in commercial longline and recreational fisheries between 2006 and 2009. Spawning peaked in the Coral Sea during November and December at sea surface temperatures between 24·8 and 28·3° C. Lower jaw fork length (LLJF) at 50% maturity (LLJF50), a key variable for stock assessment, was estimated to be 2100 ± 102 mm (mean + s.e.) for females and 1668 ± 18 mm for males. Unlike large pelagic tunas Thunnus spp., the proportion of females increased with length and spawning fish formed multiple large-scale aggregations within a broad latitudinal band. This study provides a starting point for biological parameters needed for stock assessment and conservation of K. audax and introduces the multiple aggregation spawning concept as a reproductive mechanism to explain genetic heterogeneity observed in some highly migratory species.