Recruitment and body size in relation to temperature in juvenile Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) at South Georgia
Recruitment variability in juvenile Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides), a commercially important, deepwater nototheniid fish, was examined at the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, South Atlantic. Data from 13 demersal trawl surveys conducted over a 20-year period were analysed. Abundance of the 1(+) juvenile fish cohort (13-15 month old dependent on survey date) was found to vary inter-annually and was found to be inversely correlated with the sea surface temperature (SST) conditions experienced by adults prior to spawning. Environmental temperatures experienced by toothfish eggs and larvae were not significantly correlated with juvenile density. The mean length of 1(+) fish attained after 13-15 months was higher in years of high juvenile abundance and was significantly inversely correlated with SST in the summer prior to adult spawning. Trends in toothfish recruitment variability mirrored those previously observed in a range of krill-dependent land-based predators at South Georgia for whom non-seasonal, large-scale climatic events such as El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) are considered the most likely underlying drivers of variability in breeding success. The drivers of recruitment variability in toothfish are not fully understood but a range of possible mechanisms are considered. A better understanding of recruitment variability holds great interest for fisheries managers and could be used refine forecasts of years of good or poor recruitment for the toothfish fishery at South Georgia.