Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Research Publications: UM-SG-RS-2010-12


Exploring the population dynamics of winter skate (Leucoraja ocellata) in the Georges Bank region using a statistical catch-at-age model incorporating length, migration, and recruitment process errors.




Frisk, MG; Martell, SJD; Miller, TJ; Sosebee, K


Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 67(5):774-792




Winter skate (Leucoraja ocellata) of all length classes increased dramatically in abundance on Georges Bank in the 1980s following the decline of many groundfish species. We present a full population model of winter skate to better understand the population dynamics of the species and elucidate the mechanisms underlying their increase in abundance in the 1980s. Specifically, we developed four statistical catch-at-age models incorporating length-frequency data with the following model structures: (i) observation error only (base model R1); (ii) observation and recruitment process errors (model R2); (iii) adult migration modeled as a random walk in adult mortality (model R3); and (iv) observation and recruitment process errors and adult migration (model R4). Akaike's information criterion values indicated that models R3 and R4, which both included adult migration, were the most parsimonious models. This finding strongly suggests that the winter skate population increase on Georges Bank in the 1980s was not solely a result of increases in recruitment but likely involved adult migration (i. e., it is an open population). Finally, recent predicted fishing mortalities exceeded FMSY for all models.

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