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Age and growth and maturity of southern Africa's largest cyprinid fish, the largemouth yellowfish Labeobarbus kimberleyensis

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Tel.: +27 26609721; email: bru.ellender@gmail.com

Abstract

The aim of this study was to use specimens of the largemouth yellowfish Labeobarbus kimberleyensis, southern Africa's largest cyprinid [IUCN red-listed as Near Threatened (NT)], obtained from gillnet by-catch to describe aspects of its biology in order to assist future conservation and management decisions. Ninety three L. kimberleyensis were collected between March 2007 and May 2008 from Lake Gariep, South Africa. Labeobarbus kimberleyensis was present in 38% of all gillnet catches, but in low numbers (2% of the catch) and it contributed 8% to the catch by mass. Age was estimated using astericus otoliths. Growth increment formation on these otoliths was validated as annual using edge analysis and the mark-recapture of chemically tagged captive fish. Resultant analysis showed that the species is slow growing and the oldest aged fish was a 17 year, 690 mm fork length (LF) male. The smallest ripe female fish measured 394 mm LF and was 7+ years old and the smallest mature male was 337 mm LF and 5+ years old. Slow growth and late maturity make this species vulnerable to exploitation emphasizing the need for continued high conservation priority.

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