Evaluación de polaca (Micromesistius australis) en el Atlántico Sudoccidental. Período 1987-2001
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Period 1987-2001. A diagnosis of the current state of Southern blue whiting (Micromesistius australis) stock in the Southwest Atlantic was carried out on the basis of catches corresponding to the period 1987-2001 as reported by the Argentine fleet and also by vessels operating around Malvinas Islands. Abundance and current fishing mortality rates were estimated, and the biomass evolution in the long term resulting from some possible exploitation strategies based on different management strategies were projected. A sequential population analysis calibrated under a conceptual adjustable framework with five independent abundance indices was carried out. The effects on the biomass estimates were analysed by adopting different selection patterns and calibration indices as well as taking into account the under-declaration and discard of catches. Results indicated that the declining trend of Southern Blue Whiting observed in previous studies has continued, but it has been less marked than in preceding years. Total biomass estimates at the beginning of 2001 ranged between 566 and 622 thousand tonnes, whether the under-reporting or discards of catches by the Argentine fleet were taken into account or not. Accordingly, the spawning biomass at the onset of spawning ranged between 403 and 442 thousand tonnes. These values would correspond to 27-29% of the virgin biomass. Current fishing mortality was estimated as 0.27, corresponding to a relatively high exploitation rate (0.56). Projections aimed at four possible management objectives showed that biologically acceptable catches would range 22-84 thousand tonnes in 2002. Catches in the Southwest Atlantic should not exceed 50 thousand tonnes during 2002 in order to stop the declining trend of Southern blue whiting biomass.