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Spawning time, age and size at maturity, and fecundity of sandeel, Ammodytes marinus, in the north-eastern North Sea and in unfished coastal waters off Norway

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  • Biology
  • Social Sciences


We studied the reproductive biology of the lesser sandeel, Ammodytes marinus, on the fishing grounds of the east central North Sea and on an unfished ground off the coast of southwest Norway. As in other parts of the North Sea, gonad growth appeared to start in September and spawning occurred in December-January. Based on data from the spawning period, maturity ogives by length and age were derived. The length and age at 50% maturity was 14 cm and 3.2 years respectively in both study areas. The age estimate is 1 year higher than that found previously in the southern North Sea and adopted for the ICES-assessments of the North Sea spawning stock. Estimates of fecundity appeared higher in the North Sea than in coastal waters, at least for large fish. The coastal water estimates also seemed low compared with fecundity at length relationships previously published from Shetland, Fair Isle, and Dogger bank. The sex ratio seldom deviated substantially from the 1:1 ratio, but in summer there appeared to be a surplus of females. Due to spatial differences in age-structure, the proportion of adults was generally much lower on the fishing grounds of the North Sea proper than on the unfished coastal ground. In the middle of the spawning period, however, aggregations of adults occurred on the North Sea grounds.

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