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A reliable method for ageing of whiting (Merlangius merlangus) for use in stock assessment and management


Author's address: Stine D. Ross, National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark, Jægersborg Allé 1, DK-2920 Charlottenlund, Denmark.



Accurate age estimation is important for stock assessment and management. The importance of reliable ageing is emphasized by the impending analytical assessment of whiting (Merlangius merlangus) in the Baltic Sea. Whiting is a top predator in the western Baltic Sea, where it is fished commercially although less extensively compared to the North Sea. Although the species is considered one of the most difficult gadoids to age, few efforts have been made to shed light on the ageing problems. The aim of the present study was to identify and validate the 1st winter ring and to examine the visibility of the subsequent winter rings. Microstructure analysis was used to confirm the 1st winter ring. Additionally, otolith growth trajectories were obtained, confirming the allometric growth as seen in many fish species. The method for ageing of whole otoliths presented in this study can be directly implemented in future ageing of whiting otoliths from the Baltic Sea – and potentially also adjacent areas where the conspecifics have similar growth rates.