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California Halibut (Paralichthys californicus)

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Written by: Dr. Larry Allen

(originally published in western Outdoors News 1992)

When you record a halibut execute you wonder exactly how old the is? I know you wonder exactly how much that weighs, the is, after you have figured out if it is of legit size. For the matter, have actually you ever before wondered why over there is a 22-inch minimum dimension limit, anyway? If girlfriend have ever pondered such questions, climate this write-up is because that you.

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In preparation for the many recent Marina del Rey Halibut Derby this October, I had actually both the chance and an inspiration to execute something about answering these frequently pondered questions accurately.

First, ns gathered the obtainable data on halibut age and also growth and calculated the development equations because that male and female halibut. This rather straight forward exercise has actually been long overdue with also the recent, substantial Cal Fish and also Game Bulletin ~ above halibut falling quick on this account. Age was identified by Fish and Game biologists by reading yearly growth ring in the ear skeletal (otoliths) that the fish. I just took the data presented in this bulletin and feed it right into my computer and calculated the most commonly used expansion model in fisheries science, namely the von Bertalanffy development model, for both sexes. Two expansion models room necessary since male and also female halibut grow a various rates throughout your lives.

The von Bertalanffy model, just like all expansion models, calculates the predicted development trajectories of one average size of a fish that a particular age. This predictions deserve to then it is in plotted.

Secondly, I had the ability to plot lengths and respective weights the halibut measured by Fish and also Game personnel end the last 4 decades based upon the released equation.

Together, these 2 graphs permit any California halibut angler to determine, ~ above average, both how old their fish is likely to be and also how much the fish must weigh based specifically on an exact measurement of total length (snout to pointer of tail).

because that instance, from the graphs I can estimate the a 22-inch halibut is 4 or 5 years old (depending on whether it is a masculine or female) and also should weigh around 4.5 lb. A 36-inch mrs halibut must weigh 20 lb. And also be 10 years old. The 45 inch, 33.5 lb., woman halibut caught by Nancy Hawkins that won this year"s Marina del Rey halibut derby to be probably about 23 years old. Likewise, the 30 inch, 10.2 lb. Fish caught by the youth department winner Samantha Medina can be approximated to be 7 year old presume it was a female fish. By the way, exactly how does one phone call males and females apart? The just sure method is to open up them up and also look because that ovaries or testes.

What is therefore "magical" around 22 inches? Halibut through a full length of 22 inches room 4 or 5 year old. It has been well-known for years the male halibut are mature in ~ 3 year of age and most females room mature by year 4-5. Originally, the minimum dimension limit was set by Fish and Game to enable halibut a opportunity to generate at the very least once before they were subject to sport and commercial take.

Is satisfying an individual curiosity the main reason because that gathering such clinical information? Of food not, such an easy information has a higher, longer term purpose. That is just this kind of info which drives effective fishery monitoring decisions. Knowledge of length-weight and, particularly, age-length relationships assist us come determine every one of the following: 1) the length of time to sex-related maturity, 2) the size of time for fish to an initial enter the fishery, 3) the size of time to acquire certain large sizes and also weights come maximize yields, and 4) how easily the populations have the right to recover native over-fishing. Every of this represent vital fishery management considerations.

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In brief, short-lived, fast growing varieties tend to mature early and have the potential come recover easily from heavy exploitation. Top top the various other hand, lengthy lived, sluggish growing, so late maturing types are slow-moving to recover and also we should be careful and also patient in our monitoring practices.

The take residence message? California halibut and also many various other prized nearshore sports fishes are relatively long-lived, slow growing, and also late maturing fishes.