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Marine Biology Graduate Student Association

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Stephanie Benseman

Stephanie Benseman

Nearshore Marine Fish Research Program
Department of Biology
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330-8303
Stephanie.benseman@yahoo.com

Education

B.S. Marine Biology, Cal State Northridge, 2012

M.S. Thesis

Abundance and growth estimates of young-of-the-year giant Sea Bass, Stereolepis gigas, off the southern California coast

Life history information on an ecologically and once economically important species such as the giant sea bass (Stereolepis gigas) is critical for management of its fishery. Little is known about the life history of S. gigas due to the over exploitation of their fishery in the early 1900’s, and depressed populations have prevented detailed research. The goal of this study is to fill in gaps in the early life history of the giant sea bass by (1) monitoring the young-of-year and other juvenile fish at five locations throughout southern California, (2) determining their growth rates at these sites, and (3) collecting otoliths for the assessment of size and age. Video transects and laser measurements will be used to estimate size estimates in the field. Otoliths will be collected and used for daily growth ring analysis to confirm age.

Historically S. gigas has been a target for both commercial and recreational fisheries since the late 1800’s. The coastal populations were devastated in the early 1900’s as their catch rates began to fall dramatically. The populations of S.gigas never fully recovered from this crash as records continued to show consistently low catch rates in California waters. Finally, S.gigas were placed under the protected status in 1982, and by 1994 the fishery was completely closed. These restrictions on fisheries allowed the S.gigas to make a slow, but steady recovery. The dramatic decrease in catch rates dropped the population of S.gigas down to a fraction of what it was, and eighty years later with the help of fisheries restrictions, their populations are finally beginning to successfully recover.

When thinking about fisheries management and helping the recovery of high profile species, it is necessary to know the complete life history to understand not only what is required for their recovery, but how long that recovery may take. The complete life history information can be used for a better understanding of the ecological impact of this species. Having a completed estimate of the life history and growth rates of S.gigas allows us a better understanding of the species and its involvement in the marine community. The apparent recovery of this species based on important and strict fisheries regulations are an excellent model for other similar threatened species. Maintaining fisheries is extremely important for the benefit of not only ourselves, but our oceans and the planet as well.

young fish
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