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Keywords:

  • black bream;
  • fisheries management;
  • hybridization;
  • hybrid swarm;
  • ICOLLs;
  • yellowfin bream

This study examined the spatio-temporal reproductive patterns, population structure, maturity and growth of Acanthopagrus hybrid complexes, which comprise mainly black bream Acanthopagrus butcheri and the hybrids they form with yellowfin bream Acanthopagrus australis, in two Australian estuaries (Coila and Brou Lakes, NSW). There were no differences between pure A. butcheri and hybrids in terms of their population structure, growth and maturity, suggesting that these two breeds have similar life histories and may therefore be managed as single, naturally cohesive units. Sexual variation in size structure was only observed for the complex in Coila Lake. Although there was significant variation in age structure between estuaries, both complexes exhibited dominance of only a few year classes indicating episodic recruitment and high fishing mortality. Acanthopagrus eggs occurred in higher numbers within upstream creek habitats compared to lake habitats, thereby highlighting the need to protect these spawning habitats. Although maturity in the complexes was not influenced by gender or estuary, differences in growth were detected between the genders and estuaries.