Age estimation and lead–radium dating of Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) in the Ross Sea
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Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) are the target of an important commercial fishery in the Southern Ocean, yet age data used for management have not been comprehensively tested for accuracy. In this study, Antarctic toothfish were aged using counts of otolith growth zones based on criteria established for Patagonian toothfish, D. eleginoides, a closely related species. To validate these ages, the radioactive disequilibrium of lead-210 and radium-226 in otolith cores was measured and used as an independent chronometer to accurately determine age across the range of fish caught in large numbers by the fishery. Growth-zone counts indicated Antarctic toothfish live to at least 39 years of age, and were in close agreement with the chronometer, validating the age estimation criteria and the accuracy of age estimates. Von Bertalanffy growth function parameters indicated Antarctic toothfish were relatively slow-growing (k = 0.111), especially in relation to their maximum size (L∞ = 158.9 cm).