Population Characteristics of Selected Small Pelagic Fish Species along the Tanzanian Coast
Keywords:Population, Small pelagic, Maturity, Tanzania
Although small pelagic fishing in Tanzania is rising, lack of information on population structure has been a significant concern in its management. This study aimed to determine the species composition, length-weight relationship and length at first maturity of Amblygaster sirm, Encrasicholina heteroloba, Encrasicholina punctifer, Stolephorus commersonii, and Spratelloides gracilis landed at Kilwa Kivinje, Kipumbwi and Shangani along the Tanzanian coast. These landing sites were chosen because of their locations and importance in the small pelagic fishery. Sampling was done monthly from October 2018 to June 2020. The catch composition was site specific such that E. heteroloba dominated at Kilwa Kivinje and Shangani, while E. punctifer dominated at the Kipumbwi site. Further analysis shows allometric coefficient to be greater than 3 for A. sirm and E. punctifer, indicating positive allometric growth, while for S. commersonii and S. gracilis, the allometric coefficient was less than 3, indicating negative allometric growth. Our findings showed that length at first maturity (L50) differed, implying that these species start spawning at different sizes, an essential biological reference for sustainable small pelagic fish exploitation. We recommend seasonal closure of the fishery to maintain reproductive seasons since many species are multiple spawners.
Keywords: Population; Small pelagic; Maturity; Tanzania