Female summer flounder Paralichthys dentatus grow faster than males and experience a lower natural mortality rate. Sex-structured assessment models have been developed for other fishes with sexually dimorphic characteristics to better account for population dynamics. Although a desire exists to develop similar assessment techniques for summer flounder, some prerequisite data are not available, including the sex of fish that are landed in the recreational fishery. Furthermore, summer flounder recreational landings are constrained within harvest limits almost entirely by minimum size restrictions-a management approach that could place much of the recreational fishing mortality on females. To fill a basic but important data requirement to improve the stock assessment of this species while also providing some insight on how current management strategies might impact the sex structure of the population, we collected data on sex and length of summer flounder (n = 4,437) that were landed in the New Jersey recreational fishery in 2009 and 2010. Females dominated the recreational catch in both years (95% female overall). The proportion of landed fish at a given length that were females was greater at lower latitudes and earlier in the summer; the proportion female at length was greater in 2010 than in 2009. Extensive seasonal, annual, and spatial variability evident over such a local scale suggests a highly dynamic sex dependency in the population dynamics of summer flounder and indicates that a more robust data set covering wider geographic and temporal scales will be necessary before sex-specific landings data can be confidently incorporated into an assessment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law