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Age, growth and mortality estimates for populations of red snappers Lutjanus erythropterus and L. malabaricus from northern Australia and eastern Indonesia


Lutjanus erythropterus and L. malabaricus were examined for life-history differences among northern Australian and eastern Indonesian populations. Formation of opaque growth increments in otoliths began during April to September for northern Australian fishes and September to April for eastern Indonesian fishes. Maximum observed ages were greater than previously reported: 42 and 48 years for L. erythropterus and L. malabaricus, respectively. Eastern Indonesian red snappers grew faster than northern Australian fish. Growth was similar for northern Australian L. erythropterus populations. However, Kupang and Sape populations of L. erythropterus in eastern Indonesian showed different growth from the Arafura North population, which was similar to northern Australian fish. There were growth differences among northern Australian populations of L. malabaricus. Arafura South and Timor populations were similar, but differed from Groote and Weipa populations. There were no significant differences in growth among populations of L. malabaricus in eastern Indonesia. Total mortality estimates were similar between northern Australian and eastern Indonesian fish: 0.09 and 0.16 year−1 for L. erythropterus and 0.11 and 0.14 year−1 for L. malabaricus, respectively. Life-history characteristics of these red snappers are typical of other tropical snappers: slow-growing and long-lived with low mortality. However, population growth differences suggest that their management should be based on biological information from distinct stocks.

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We thank the eastern Indonesian fisheries staff; Mujimin, Bambang Sumiono and Noto for co-ordinating and collecting red snapper samples in eastern Indonesia. Stephanie Boubaris, Mike Elmsley, Chris Errity and Chris Tarca from the Northern Territory Department of Business, Industry and Resource Development helped collect the northern Australian samples. We are grateful to Bill Passey of FV Ocean Harvest and Clive Perry of FV Reef Venture for supplying red snapper samples from northern Australia. We also thank Steve Blaber, John Salini and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on the draft manuscript. This project was partly funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR FIS 97/165).

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Correspondence to Gary C. Fry.

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Fry, G.C., Milton, D.A. Age, growth and mortality estimates for populations of red snappers Lutjanus erythropterus and L. malabaricus from northern Australia and eastern Indonesia. Fish Sci 75, 1219–1229 (2009).

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  • Catch-curve analysis
  • Fisheries management
  • Geographical variation
  • Life-history
  • Longevity
  • Otoliths
  • Total mortality